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Mitch McConnell would eliminate the filibuster if he was in Democrats" shoes, Jim Acosta says

"If Mitch McConnell were in their shoes, what would he do? Given what we know, would we see him letting the filibuster stand?" Acosta said on Saturday. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta speaks outside US District Court in Washington, DC, on November 16, 2018.Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images When he led the Senate, Mitch McConnell broke norms by blocking Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee. McConnell led the vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Court in 2020, reversing course. CNN correspondent Jim Acosta said that Democrats should think like McConnell and end the filibuster. CNN correspondent Jim Acosta said Saturday that Democrats have been out-maneuvered by US Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, an architect of a conservative-leaning Supreme Court that appears open to upholding a 15-week Mississippi abortion ban in a major case that would gut Roe v. Wade."If Mitch McConnell were in their shoes, what would he do?" Acosta said. "Given what we know, would we see him letting the filibuster stand? Is the filibuster more important than election rights and women's rights? Is it more important than the lives of our teenagers, the safety of our schools?"During the segment, Acosta outlined how the electoral college gave Trump the presidency, as well as the opportunity to nominate three Supreme Court justices during his term: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.He also recounted McConnell's strategy to pack the court with conservative justices, including his obstruction of President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, who would have filled a vacancy on the Supreme Court after the death of former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. While McConnell insisted that the vacancy could not be filled during an election year, four years later he would lead the vote to nominate Coney Barrett to the court days before the 2020 election."Even though Americans have largely chosen Democrats for the presidency over the last three decades, a new hard-right Supreme Court appears poised to turn back the clock to the 1970s," Acosta said. "This has created the scenario where the minority views on a whole range of hot-button issues could carry the day for a generation."—Acyn (@Acyn) December 4, 2021Acosta also cited Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who warned earlier this week that overturning Roe v. Wade would create a "stench in Washington.""Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception, that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don't see how it is possible," Sotomayor said. "If people actually believe that it's all political, how will we survive? How will the Court survive?"The court will hand down a decision by next June on the Mississippi case concerning abortion rights. If the justices decide to overturn Roe v. Wade, at least 12 states will immediately impose near-total bans on abortion.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

Greenwald: Senate Democrats Use The Jim Crow Filibuster To Protect The Kremlin

Greenwald: Senate Democrats Use The Jim Crow Filibuster To Protect The Kremlin Authored by Glenn Greenwald via greenwald.substack.com, Speaking at the funeral of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in May, 2020, former President Barack Obama called for the elimination of the Senate filibuster, which he maligned as “another Jim Crow relic.” During his four years in the Senate, Obama himself used that Jim Crow relic on two dozen occasions to block the Republican majority from bringing various bills to a floor vote. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris speak to the American people about constitutional voting rights in Atlanta, GA, on January, 11, 2022 United States. (Photo by Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) In 2005, Obama's second year in the Senate, Republicans — furious that Senate Democrats were using the filibuster to block President Bush's judicial appointments — proposed the "nuclear option” to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for judicial appointments. In response, the junior Senator from Illinois took to the floor of the Senate and delivered one of his trademarked impassioned speeches in defense of this Jim Crow relic, railing against the unfairness of “one party, be it Republican or Democrat … chang[ing] the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” He also heralded the importance of the 6o-vote requirement in the Senate for protecting the rights of the minority party: “If the right of free and open debate is taken away from the minority party and the millions of Americans who ask us to be their voice, I fear the partisan atmosphere in Washington will be poisoned to the point where no one will be able to agree on anything.” Filibuster hypocrisy of this sort is the norm in Washington. In 2017, when Senate Democrats were in the minority under President Trump, 32 of them signed a letter urging that the filibuster be maintained on the ground that it is necessary to safeguard “the existing rights and prerogatives of Senators to engage in full, robust, and extended debate as we consider legislation before this body in the future." Fast forward four years, when the Democrats have a 50-50 majority in the Senate with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President, and now that very same filibuster has been transformed by them from a sacred guardian of minoritarian rights into the tell-tale sign of white nationalism and fascist contempt for democratic values. Thus have Democrats, being Democrats, made this about so much more than hypocrisy. They have somehow managed to infuse a racial component into this long-standing and pedestrian parliamentary tactic, and converted the routine side-switching each party has done for years based on whether they are in the majority or the minority into some overarching test of moral character. Under the rubric Democrats have now created, using a filibuster is not merely an unfair and obstructionist weapon used by the minority — the standard claim invoked by each party whenever they are in the majority and their will is thwarted by it — but instead it has now become proof that whoever uses it is a racist. Speaking in Atlanta on Tuesday, President Biden alleged that anyone who continues to support a filibuster to stop his party's voting rights legislation is choosing to "stand on the side of” George Wallace over Dr. King, Bull Connor over John Lewis, and Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln. As is usually the case, this sort of racialist coercion — do what I want or you will be branded a racist — failed, as two Democratic Senators, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) promptly announced that they will continue to support the 60-vote requirement for all legislation, echoing all the arguments then-Sen. Obama made back in 2005 about the key role played by the filibuster in preserving comity and avoiding divisiveness. But the Democrats’ view that the filibuster is racist and that only racists use it is not confined to the subtly named John Lewis Act to Protect Voting Rights. As Obama's comments at Lewis’ funeral reflect, it is now common in Democratic Party discourse to speak of the filibuster as an inherently white nationalist tool. "Here’s Why the Filibuster Is a Jim Crow Relic,” was the headline of Jonathan Chait's New York Magazine article from May, echoing — as he usually does — the words of Obama. Chait argued that in the past, “it was used rarely and almost always for the purpose of blocking civil-rights bills,” adding that “the filibuster exception to the general practice of majority rule was a product of an implicit understanding that the white North would grant the white South a veto on matters of white supremacy.” New York Magazine, Mar. 23, 2021 That the filibuster is an inherently racist tool, a relic of Jim Crow, is an odd position for Democrats to take given that just yesterday, they used the filibuster to block legislation proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Indeed, Sen. Cruz’s bill not only attracted the votes of forty-nine out of fifty Republican Senators (the only exception was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)), but also six Democratic Senators who face close races in 2022 and/or are from purple states: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), , Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA). That meant that Cruz had 55 votes for his bill — a clear majority. So why did it not pass? Because Senate Democrats invoked the racist Jim Crow relic in order to refuse to allow a vote on that bill unless it first attained 60 votes to close the debate. In other words, Democrats — on Thursday— used the filibuster to block Cruz's bill despite its having the support of the majority of the Senate. What makes the Democrats’ conduct here even more notable is the substance of Cruz's bill that they blocked with the filibuster. Cruz sought to impose sanctions on the Russian pipeline company Nord Stream 2, which is constructing the pipeline that will allow Moscow to sell large amounts of cheap natural gas to Germany and to Europe more broadly. There are few more pressing priorities for the Kremlin, if there are any, than construction of this pipeline. So by blocking Cruz's bill, Democrats not only used a racist filibuster, but they did so in order to protect Vladimir Putin and a vital Russian company from sanctions. Indeed, few episodes have revealed what utter propagandists and unhinged conspiracy theorists the corporate media are more than the controversy over Nord Stream 2. At exactly the same time these media outlets were insisting that Trump was little more than a treasonous, subservient tool of Putin — controlled through Moscow's blackmail — Trump was doing everything possible to sabotage this pipeline, arguably the most vital interest of Russia (it competes for that title only with Ukraine, which Trump, infuriating the Russians, swamped with lethal arms after Obama largely refused to do so). Trump was threatening, cajoling, and trying to coerce Germany into buying U.S. natural gas rather than from the Russians, arguing that U.S. expenditures on NATO and on Germany's military protection obligated Berlin to buy from the U.S. instead. The Trump administration used sanctions regimes and other tools to prevent completion of that pipeline — an extremely odd act for a Russian-controlled asset, to put it mildly. Shortly after Biden was inaugurated, he announced that those sanctions would be lifted and the U.S. would cease its efforts to impede completion of Nord Stream 2. In other words, it was Trump — depicted for years by an unhinged U.S. media and their Democratic allies as an obedient blackmail victim of Russia — who did everything possible to prevent this pipeline from being built (while simultaneously arming the Ukrainians against Moscow). It was Biden who lifted those sanctions and acknowledged that the U.S. would no longer take steps to block it — a huge gift to Putin, even if his motive, as he claimed, was to avoid conflict with the Germans. And now it is Senate Democrats — ignoring the pleas of the Ukrainians, who view Nord Stream 2 as a grave threat, and at the behest of the Biden White House — who are so eager to block sanctions against this Russian company that they are using the filibuster to prevent Cruz’s bill from passing even though it is supported by 55% of U.S. Senators, at exactly the same time they are trying to convince Americans that only racists use the filibuster, a relic of Jim Crow, and that democracy requires the approval of all bills that attract the support of fifty Senators. I personally regard efforts to stop Nord Stream 2 and punish the companies involved as absurd and irrational. Aside from the obvious futility of it (how can the U.S. prevent Germany from buying natural gas from Russia if it wants?), what right does the U.S. have to try to prevent this? Why should the U.S. try to arrogate unto itself the power to dictate to whom Russia can sell its natural gas and from whom Germany and the rest of Europe can buy it? There is nothing wrong with attempting to persuade the Germans that it is in their interest to buy it from U.S. companies, but using various forms of coercion and force to stop it has always been extremely ill-advised and destined to fail. So I, too, would have opposed Sen. Cruz's sanctions bill. But all of these events should immediately cause any employee of corporate media outlets to recognize and acknowledge the utter absurdity of the deranged conspiracy theory they fed Americans for four years: that Trump, as he did everything he could to sabotage Russian vital interests, was a treasonous puppet of the Kremlin. And it should also prevent any journalists from ever again taking seriously the solemn claim from Democrats that the filibuster is an inherently racist tool given that they just used it yesterday to prevent a bill that would have sanctioned a Russian pipeline company. That corporate media outlets will instead continue to propagate both of these DNC-sponsored fairy tales — Trump was an asset of Putin and the filibuster is only used by white nationalists for racist ends — tells you all you need to know about them and their Democratic allies. As is true for all conspiracy theorists and fanatics, there are no facts or contradicting events that can undermine their devotion to their worldview. To support the independent journalism we are doing here, please subscribe, obtain a gift subscription for others and/or share the article Tyler Durden Fri, 01/14/2022 - 11:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 14th, 2022

The Progressive Logic Of "Build Back Better"... And Its Dangers

The Progressive Logic Of 'Build Back Better'... And Its Dangers Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClearPolitics.com, “Build Back Better” is far more consequential than the earlier COVID relief packages. That’s why Democrats are so angry at those who blocked its passage and so determined to push it forward. Why is BBB more important than the COVID legislation? Because pandemic relief was essentially a massive stimulus program, with the usual smorgasbord of treats for favored groups, but little more than that. Although BBB is also a massive stimulus, its real importance lies in the permanent entitlement programs it would launch, everything from universal pre-K and Medicare expansion to mandated paid leave from private employers. Those are major building blocks in the Democrats’ long-term plan to construct a full-fledged social-welfare state along European lines. Achieving that ambitious, transformational goal — while making irreversible changes in how America governs itself — is why the party is fighting so hard and why the left is so furious about the Senate stalemate, personified by West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, a Democrat who refuses to go along, either to pass the bill or eliminate the filibuster to pass President Biden’s non-budget initiatives. Enacting these massive, new entitlements is one reason the House bill is rightly called “progressive.” The second, equally important reason is that nearly all Democrats, except Manchin and his Arizona colleague Kyrsten Sinema, are willing to break the Senate’s longstanding rules and procedures to achieve their desired outcome. This determination to override traditional governing procedures and the institutions that embody them has been a hallmark of capital-P Progressivism since Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette came roaring into the Senate in 1906. By 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was running for president as the Progressive Party nominee. Woodrow Wilson, the man who gained the Oval Office by TR’s third-party candidacy, had embraced progressivism while a professor (and later college president) at Princeton. Wilson and progressive public intellectuals such as Herbert Croly explained their rationale far more candidly than their political descendants do. The Constitution, they rightly noted, encumbered our national government with its enumerated powers, decentralized federalism, multiple veto points for any new policies, and strong protections for private property, contracts, and minority-party rights. Progressives argued that those restraints may have been fine for the 18th and 19th centuries but not for the 20th, which needed a far more active state. Although 21st century progressives are uncomfortably standing in Woodrow Wilson’s shadow on account of his racial policies, their basic contention is the same: The “old” Constitution is outmoded. Its restrictions stand in the way of a more powerful, activist, centralized government. Creating that government is what progressive legal scholars mean when they advocate for  a “living Constitution,” which achieves desired outcomes by ignoring restraints in the “old Constitution.” They have largely succeeded. Progressives have gradually remodeled America’s government, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. During FDR’s first term in the White House, the Supreme Court ruled that most of those programs violated the Constitution. Roosevelt found that intolerable and on the heels of his 1936 landslide reelection, threatened to expand the court and pack it with pro-New Deal justices. The blowback caused FDR to retreat, but the mere threat helped achieved his desired results. Sitting justices began approving his programs or retiring, replaced by FDR’s nominees. It proved to be an inflection point for the high court and for American government. Since then, the Supreme Court has successively loosened the old Constitutional restrictions and approved major accretions to centralized power, much of it located in Washington bureaucracies. Whether the current court, with its conservative majority, will continue to do so is one reason nominations are now so hotly contested. The fight is over fundamental issues. Washington’s centralized power, substantially engorged by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, is how America is governed today, less by statutes and more by executive diktat and bureaucratic rules, which are enforced and adjudicated mainly by the very agencies that promulgate them. Congress now sees its role mainly as overseeing those agencies. It’s not very good at it. This centralized administrative state with its expansive powers is why Washington bureaucracies presume they have the authority to require private businesses with over 100 employees to fire workers who refuse COVID vaccinations. It is why the Department of Education can demand private universities comply with a vast range of federal rules and regulations if any of their students or faculty receive federal loans or grants (as all universities do, except Hillsdale). It is why Washington bureaucrats can tell K-12 schools what kind of lunches to serve, a task once handled solely by local school boards and seized from them without any congressional debate. Washington money means Washington rules. Those regulations go well beyond statutory laws or constitutional protections against discrimination. They have suppressed the Constitution’s basic federal structure and gradually erased the line between “public” and “private” enterprises. This web of centralized control and bureaucratic rules has “progressively” usurped control over most aspects of American public and private life, making civil society subordinate to the administrative state. Expanding this centralized state and endowing it with still more cradle-to-grave programs is the main aim of Build Back Better. Achieving that won’t be easy because the Democrats didn’t run on that platform and didn’t win enough votes to enact it. Joe Biden won mainly because he wasn’t Donald Trump, because he promised to return the country to normality after four turbulent years and outlined a vague center-left agenda to do it. Those promises went out the window after Biden took office. The window opened wider when Democrats captured Georgia’s two Senate seats in runoff elections. Those victories in early January cost the Republicans control of the upper chamber. Since Democrats already controlled the House, just barely, they now held both branches of Congress, as well as the White House. Only the Supreme Court was beyond their grasp, and they are threatening to take it, too, by going where even Franklin Roosevelt dared not tread. Nonetheless, the Georgia victories gave the incoming Biden team an opportunity, and they seized it. They opted, in their words, to “fundamentally transform America.” What they failed to acknowledge was that Biden was in a far weaker position to do that than Roosevelt in 1936 or Johnson in 1964. Those presidents carried overwhelming majorities into the White House and Congress. Biden did not. His position was weak at the beginning and has gone downhill ever since. It’s not surprising, then, that the White House has such trouble passing Build Back Better. What’s seems odd is that Biden has refused to change course. He is still hellbent on passing an ambitious, left-wing agenda. The budgetary elements can pass the Senate with a simple majority under budget reconciliation rules. But that requires the support of all 50 Democrats since Republicans are united in opposition. Vice President Kamala Harris could then break the 50-50 tie and pass the gargantuan bill. But Joe Manchin has proved an immovable object, objecting to the legislation’s accounting tricks, the massive deficit it creates, and the fuel it pours onto an overheated economy. Since Biden won less than 30% of the West Virginia vote while losing every single county in the state, he has no leverage over the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation. Budget reconciliation rules don’t cover all of Biden’s proposals. These additional proposals could be blocked by filibuster, unless the filibuster itself were eliminated. That could be done by a simple majority vote, but it would fundamentally change the Senate by ending its traditional protections for the minority party. That’s why then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused President Trump’s demand to do it. That’s why Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema refuse to change the rules now, despite pressure from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The debate over the filibuster rule has received a lot of attention, and properly so. So has the flip-flop by Democrats who stoutly defended the rule when they were in the minority. But the real issue here is not Schumer’s blatant hypocrisy. The deeper issue — one that has largely been missed — is how the effort to overturn Senate rules and pass BBB fits so neatly into the larger sweep of progressive politics. That’s not just because Democrats want to permanently expand the social-welfare state and “fundamentally transform America.” It’s also because they are willing to smash venerable institutions and procedural safeguards to do it. The same logic applies to their effort to nationalize election laws. That, too, is probably doomed because of the filibuster. If it did pass, it’s also likely that the Supreme Court would strike it down because the Constitution specifically delegates election lawmaking to state legislatures, with national courts stepping in only to protect individual rights. The latest initiatives by Biden, Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi may fail, but they won’t be the progressives’ last hurrah. They’ve been winning for over eight decades and came within two Senate votes of winning this time. They’ll keep trying until voters send them a clear message that the administrative state is already too big, too intrusive, too far removed from control by citizens’ elected representatives. Its continued growth and unchecked power threatens our oldest institutions, our freedoms, and our liberty under law. The voters’ message must be unambiguous: Stop trying to fundamentally transform America. We never asked for it, we don’t want it, and we never gave you permission. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 13th, 2022

Big Left-Wing "Dark Money" Groups Fund Schumer"s Secretive Anti-Filibuster Ally

Big Left-Wing 'Dark Money' Groups Fund Schumer's Secretive Anti-Filibuster Ally Authored by Mark Tapscott via The Epoch Times, Fix Our Senate, the obscure outfit leading a coalition of 70 liberal advocacy groups backing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) anti-filibuster drive, is a left-wing “dark-money pop-up,” according to a political nonprofit finance expert. “Fix Our Senate may present itself as a standalone, grassroots activist group, but it’s actually a front for the Sixteen Thirty Fund, itself part of a $1.7 billion left-wing ‘dark- money pop-up’ empire run by the shadowy consulting firm Arabella Advisors,” said Capital Research Center (CRC) senior investigative researcher Hayden Ludwig. “We call these fronts ‘pop-ups’ because they’re websites which pop into existence, run attack campaigns, and disappear in an instant and almost never reveal their connection to Arabella or its nonprofits,” Ludwig told The Epoch Times on Jan. 4. The CRC is a conservative nonpartisan foundation that specializes in tracking trends among the most influential charities, nonprofits, and special-interest groups affecting the public policy process in the nation’s capital. “We study unions, environmentalist groups, and a wide variety of nonprofit and activist organizations. We also keep an eye on crony capitalists who seek to profit by taking advantage of government regulations and by getting their hands on taxpayers’ money,” CRC says of its purpose on its website. Schumer promised earlier this week to seek a vote by Jan. 17 on abolishing or reforming the filibuster—the Senate’s “cloture” rule that requires 60 votes to end debate and vote on a proposal—if Senate Republicans block consideration of two election reform packages that are top priorities of the Democrats’ progressive, or far-left, faction. Republicans argue the reforms—the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act—severely limit or eliminate entirely the use of photo IDs and related ballot security measures, and require that all proposed changes to state election laws have prior Department of Justice (DOJ) approval. Measures such as strengthening voter identification requirements are highly popular with the public, with recent surveys by Rasmussen, Monmouth, Pew, and AP-NORC finding 72 to 80 percent support for requiring photo IDs to vote. Fix Our Senate describes itself as a “coalition of more than 70 organizations (and counting) representing millions of Americans fighting to eliminate the filibuster and fix the Senate so our elected officials can finally start delivering on their promises.” While no individuals are identified as officials on Fix Our Senate’s website, Eli Zupnick is identified by The Hill as a “spokesman.” He’s cited as praising Schumer for making “the choice clear: Senate Democrats must now choose between protecting our democracy or stubbornly preserving an outdated and abused Senate rule.” The Epoch Times received no response to its questions submitted through the “Press Inquiries” contact form on the Fix Our Senate website by press time. Zupnick, who identifies himself with Fix Our Senate on his Twitter profile page, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. He’s the former longtime communications director for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), working for her in various positions from 2009 until 2019. He also was briefly in 2019 the managing principal for Precision Strategies, a Washington and New York City political consulting and marketing firm co-founded by Stephanie Cutter, who identifies herself as the former deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. Among the 70 organizations participating in the Fix Our Senate coalition are the American Muslim Civil Rights Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Equal Justice Society, Faith in Public Life, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, Peoples’ Action, Right to Health Action, and United We Dream. Many of the participating groups are locally focused activists groups such as the Long Beach Alliance for Clean Energy and Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action. Many of the coalition members, whether nationally or locally focused, share one thing in common—significant funding from the Sixteen Thirty/Arabella Fund dark money network, according to Ludwig. “Because Fix Our Senate and other ‘pop-ups’ aren’t real nonprofits, they don’t file IRS Form 990 disclosures or publicly report their budgets, boards, or lobbying–making it impossible to trace their donors,” Ludwig explained.  “Instead, all that money moves through the Sixteen Thirty Fund, itself created and managed by the for-profit company Arabella Advisors as a way for liberal mega-donors to quietly fund many of the Left’s most extreme causes.” Ludwig said CRC has “traced about $10 million flowing from Arabella’s network funded by anonymous liberal donors to signatories on Fix Our Senate’s anti-filibuster coalition.” Prospects for the success of the Schumer/Fix Our Senate campaign to abolish or reform the Senate filibuster suffered a major blow on Jan. 4, when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters that he worries that “being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it’s very, very difficult. It’s a heavy lift.” With the Senate split 50-50, the loss of even one Democratic vote on a filibuster reform proposal would be fatal unless 11 Republicans would then be willing to join the effort, which is highly unlikely. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) also has spoken publicly against revising the filibuster process, and a senior congressional GOP source who asked not to be named told The Epoch Times on Jan. 3 that “at least a couple of other Democrat senators will oppose it if Schumer forces a vote.” Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 22:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 6th, 2022

Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide

Your 2021 Holiday Dinner Political Survival Guide Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in The Hill to help readers survive this year’s the holiday dinners with friends and family. The cards below can be printed and cut down for easy palming or secreting in a napkin for reference during meals. Here is the column: It seems like this Christmas is all Krampus and no St. Nick. People are in a foul mood, and politically it seems every day brings little offerings from the Caga Tió — from packing institutions or sacking individuals. in righteous indignation. Indeed, if you expect your holiday events are going to be an emotional powder keg, think of  dinner for Justice Sonia Sotomayor with the three newest justices after she said a “stench” of politics followed them to the Court. Then there is the happy gathering of the Democrats with senators like Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) after the White House basically called him a liar, and other members called him the killer of democracy for refusing to support the Build Back Better bill (BBB). Of course, the Republicans have a former president who hates the majority leader and house members who are seeking to sanction each other. Welcome to Christmas 2021, our hair-triggered holiday season. It is not surprising, therefore, to read the recent Quinnipiac University poll, which found a universal fear of holiday fireworks over political divisions. Some 66 percent of adults are hoping to avoid any discussion of politics. The problem is that 21 percent say that they are “looking forward” to hashing out political differences. That means that even with eight guests struggling to stay on football and fashion, two guests will be actively trying to steer the conversation onto immigration and insurrection. That means that you have to be prepared. Below are some Christmas crib notes to get you through holiday dinner. Each topic — abortion, the filibuster, court packing, and gerrymandering — is divided between comments you might expect from Democratic and Republican family members and friends. Just palm a few of these if your holiday dinner seem more Whodunit than Whoville: *   *  * Abortion is about to be outlawed No, the Supreme Court in Dobbs is deciding whether to return some — or all — of the power over abortion limits to the states. Even if Roe were overturned, it would simply make this a state issue — and most states would protect the right. Backside fun fact: Even Justice Ginsburg criticized Roe as “Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.” *  *  * Abortion has always been criminal Actually, some early laws were tied to the “quickening” for the first feeling of movement in a pregnancy. That would occur around the 14th week. Backside fun fact: At his confirmation hearing, Justice Clarence Thomas testified that he had never really thought about Roe v. Wade and had no firm view on the matter. *  *  * The filibuster is a racist relic that must be eliminated to protect democracy Actually, it is more a “relic” of the Julius Caesar era than the Jim Crow era. In ancient Rome, the filibuster was used to force the Roman senate to hear dissenting voices. It has been used in the U.S. Senate to protect minority rights and to encourage compromise. Backside fun fact: Then-Sen. Joe Biden denounced any termination of the filibuster as “disastrous” and would change “understanding and unbroken practice of what the Senate is all about.” Then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) denounced those seeking to eradicate the filibuster and warned that it would “put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only become worse.” *  *  * The filibuster has been part of our constitutional system since the Framers Actually, it can be traced to a procedural argument by former Vice President Aaron Burr to get rid of an automatic end to debate on bills in the early 1800s. The rule has been repeatedly modified, as in 1975 when the threshold to end a filibuster was reduced to 60 votes. Backside fun fact: The Democrats under then-Majority Leader Harry Reid crossed the Rubicon by removing the filibuster for votes on non-Supreme Court judicial nominees in 2013. The Republicans then removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017 to end the blocking of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. *  *  * Republicans packed the court first in the Merrick Garland nomination The Senate has the constitutional authority to vote or not vote on a nominee. The refusal to vote on President Obama’s nominee was not court packing. It did not add justices to force an instant majority in favor of one side. Backside fun fact: As a senator, Joe Biden called packing the Supreme Court “a bonehead idea,” “a terrible, terrible mistake. Packing the Court has also been opposed by justices including the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer. *  *  * Court packing is unconstitutional Actually, the number of Supreme Court justices is not set in the Constitution. The number has fluctuated through the years, with larger and smaller courts — tied to the number of federal circuits. Since justices once “rode circuit” and actually sat as judges in lower courts, Congress would add a justice when it added a circuit — or reduce the court with the elimination of a circuit. Thus, when a 10th circuit was added in 1863, a 10th justice was added at the same time. Backside Fun Fact: When the court first convened in 1790 in New York, at the Royal Exchange Building, it had just six members. *  *  * Democracy is dying The claim that democracy is dying without the federalization of elections ignores the fact the Constitution leaves most of the election rules to the states. Each state sets its election rules as a result of the democratic process, and both parties continue to engage in gerrymandering with Democratic majorities this year being challenged over such contorted maps to engineer victories. Backside fun fact: The precursor to the Democratic party (Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party) actually started gerrymandering. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry, signed a bill to redistrict Massachusetts for the benefit of his party. In the 1980s, California Democrat Phil Burton boasted that his distortion of district lines to help the democrats was “my contribution to modern art.” Both Democratic and Republican states are gerrymandering this year. *  *  * Gerrymandering is what Democracy is all about Abuses like gerrymandering are inherently abusive and undermine the democratic process. The fact that courts have allowed states to engage in such abuse (unless it dilutes minority voting) is not an endorsement of the practice. Backside fun fact: In 1989, President George H.W. Bush, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and other Republicans pushed for the passage of “legislation aimed at outlawing gerrymandering.” The bill sought “‘neutral criteria’ to be used in drawing the nation’s congressional districts after the 1990 census.” Despite multiple bills, it was defeated by Democratic opposition. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/25/2021 - 14:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 25th, 2021

22 Democrats hailed as environmental champions have personally pumped money into companies that rely on fossil fuels

Democrats who have key roles shaping energy policy reported holding or trading shares of Exxon Mobil, Dominion Energy, and Chevron, among others. Rebecca Zisser/InsideriStock, Rebecca Zisser/Insider Democrats who have key roles shaping energy policy also invest in energy companies. They reported holding or trading shares of Exxon Mobil, Dominion Energy, and Chevron, among others. The lawmakers often get accolades for their voting records on green issues. Nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers with gold-star ratings from a major environmental advocacy group have personal financial ties to fossil-fuel giants and petroleum-focused energy companies, federal financial-disclosure documents show. Insider identified 22 House and Senate Democrats — all but one of whom scored at least 92% on the League of Conservation Voters' 2020 environmental rankings — who over the past year reported holding or trading stocks in companies heavily involved with petroleum, coal, and natural gas. The tally is part of the exhaustive Conflicted Congress project, in which Insider reviewed nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers. Several of these lawmakers wield power over the energy sector via their committees, including the House Appropriations Committee's energy- or environment-related subcommittees (three members), the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (two), the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (one), and the House Natural Resources Committee (one).  A plurality (nine) of the Democrats invested in Exxon Mobil. Eight invested in Dominion Energy, while six invested in each of Duke Energy and Chevron. Other energy-sector leaders that members of Congress invested in during 2020 include BP, ConocoPhillips, Consolidated Edison, Exelon, Shell, and Valero Energy. Electric companies and Big OilSen. John Hickenlooper, who serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, reported owning up to $500,000 worth of Duke Energy stock during 2020. He sold up to $250,000 worth of Chevron stock in late October 2021, and he reported up to $1 million in capital gains from Exxon Mobil stock he no longer owns. Hickenlooper is the only lawmaker in this bunch without an LCV ranking, as the 2020 scorecard predates his arrival in Congress. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who had an LCV rating of 92% in 2020 and serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, reported owning up to $80,000 worth of energy-related stocks: up to $50,000 worth of Duke Energy stock he held on his own, up to $15,000 worth of Shell stock, and up to $15,000 worth of Chevron attributed to his wife. A Carper aide told Insider that a financial advisor handled the family's investments."Over a lifetime of public service, Senator Carper is — and always has been — driven solely by a motivation to serve the people of Delaware and their interests," Carper's spokeswoman, Rachel Levitan, wrote in an email. Levitan added that Carper had consistently worked to restrict offshore drilling, abolish government subsidies for fossil-fuel companies, and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2020, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, who had an LCV rating of 100% and serves on the Natural Resources Committee, reported owning up to $100,000 worth of energy-related stocks: up to $50,000 worth of Chevron, and up to $50,000 worth of Exxon Mobil. Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, who had an LCV rating of 100% and serves on a House Appropriations subcommittee governing energy and water, reported owning up to $45,000 in energy-related stocks: up to $15,000 worth of Exxon Mobil, up to $15,000 worth of Dominion, and up to $15,000 worth of ConocoPhillips. Frankel has continued this year to trade in oil investments.Frankel told Insider that an independent money manager handled her finances."I keep it at an arm's length for ethical reasons," she said, adding, "I have an excellent environmental record and I stand by it."Like most of Congress, Carper and Frankel have not established a qualified blind trust, a congressionally approved and independently managed financial vehicle that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics describes as "the most comprehensive approach" to "eliminate conflicts of interests and the appearance of them." but can be expensive and initially time-consuming to establish.Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada, who had an LCV rating of 95% and serves on a House Appropriations subcommittee that controls federal spending on environmental matters, reported owning up to $100,000 worth of Dominion stock. Rep. Susie Lee, a Democrat of Nevada, leads a rally to promote climate benefits in the Build Back Better Act at the US Capitol on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesLee is among 48 members of Congress that Insider and other media organizations identified as having violated the disclosure provisions of the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, a law designed to promote transparency and defend against financial conflicts of interest among top government officials.Legacy stockholdersIn a few cases, Democrats pinned their association with energy companies on deceased family members. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat whose Ohio district snakes along nearly 150 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, is the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. As such, Kaptur has said, she "focuses on efforts to protect the natural resource of Lake Erie."Kaptur reported owning up to $100,000 worth of stock in Nutrien, a Canadian fertilizer company, in her most recent annual financial filing. Lake Erie has for years experienced algae blooms caused in part by fertilizer runoff.Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat of Ohio, addresses advocates for Great Lakes restoration programs during a Capitol Hill press conference on March 15, 2017.Tom Williams/CQ Roll CallThe 20-term congresswoman inherited the stock in December 2020 from her brother who had died, a spokesperson, Chris Dalton, said."She does not intend to trade or cash out her deceased brother's gift," Dalton said. "Because the inherited shares are the first she has ever owned during her service, she will look at various options as she resolves the estate. Should other actions be necessary going forward, they will appear in the disclosures in subsequent years as appropriate."Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania is another legacy stock holder. She reported owning up to $50,000 worth of Exelon stock that's been in the family for decades. A Scanlon staffer told Insider her husband, Mark Stewart, an attorney, got 25 shares of Philadelphia Electric Company nearly 50 years ago from an uncle who worked there at the time. The aide said Stewart held on to the stock as times have changed — Exelon absorbed PECO in 2000 — but Scanlon has never been involved in that particular investment. "The congresswoman's voting record makes clear her strong commitment to environmental issues and protecting our planet for the next generation," a Scanlon spokeswoman, Lauren Cox, wrote in an email. LCV scorecard's limitsEmily Samsel, LCV's national press secretary, described her organization's scorecard as "the nationally accepted yardstick" for rating lawmakers' records on environmental, public-health, and energy issues. But Samsel acknowledged that it "does not provide a holistic look at their record outside of the House or Senate floor."Whether a stock is a family memento or retirement-plan booster matters little to Joshua Silver, the CEO of the anticorruption advocacy group RepresentUs.Silver said the outlook for environmental and other issues is dire — unless Congress gets serious about cleaning up its act."Until we reduce money in politics, change the filibuster and how we vote, we're going to see increases in corruption and inaction on virtually every issue that Americans care about — whether it be ethics or climate change or education," Silver told Insider. "They're all stuck in the same dysfunction."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 13th, 2021

Money, Funny-Money, & Crypto

Money, Funny-Money, & Crypto Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com, That the post-industrial era of fiat currencies is coming to an end is becoming a real possibility. Major economies are now stalling while price inflation is just beginning to take off, following the excessive currency debasement in all major jurisdictions since the Lehman crisis and accelerated even further by covid. The dilemma now faced by central banks is whether to raise interest rates sufficiently to tackle price inflation and lend support to their currencies, or to take one last gamble on yet more stimulus in the hope that recessions can be avoided. Politics and neo-Keynesian economics strongly favour monetary inflation and continued interest rate suppression. But following that course leads to the destruction of currencies. So, how should ordinary people protect themselves from currency risk? To assist them, this article draws out the distinctions between money, currency, and bank credit. It examines the claims of cryptocurrencies to be replacement money or currencies, explaining why they will be denied either role. An update is given on the uncanny resemblance between current neo-Keynesian monetary inflation and support for financial asset prices, compared with John Law’s proto-Keynesian policies which destroyed the French economy and currency in 1720. Assuming we continue to follow Law’s playbook, an understanding why money is only physical gold and silver and nothing else will be vital to surviving what appears to be a looming crisis in financial assets and currencies. Introduction With the recent acceleration in the growth of money supply it is readily apparent that government spending is increasingly financed through monetary inflation. Those who hoped it would be a temporary phenomenon are being shown to have been overly optimistic. The excuse that its expansion was only a one-off event limited to supporting businesses and consumers through the covid pandemic is now being extended to seeing them through continuing logistics disruptions along with other unexpected problems. We now face an economic slowdown which will reduce government revenues and, according to policy planners, may require additional monetary stimulation to preclude. Along with never-ending budget deficits, for the foreseeable future monetary inflation at elevated levels is here to stay. The threat to the future purchasing power of currencies should be obvious, yet few people appear to be attributing rising prices to prior monetary expansion. David Ricardo’s equation of exchange whereby changes in the quantity of money are shown to affect its purchasing power down the line has disappeared from the inflation narrative and is all but forgotten. That the users of the medium of exchange ultimately determine its utility is ignored. It is now assumed to be the state’s function to decide what acts as money and not its users. Instead, we are told that the state’s fiat currency is money, will always be money and that prices are rising due to failures of the capitalist system. Central to the deception is to call currency money, and to persist in describing its management by the state as monetary policy. And money supply is always the supply of fiat currency in all its forms. That these so-called monetary policies have failed and continue to do so is becoming more widely appreciated. It is the anti-capitalistic attitude of state planners which absolves them from the blame of mismanaging the relationship between their currencies and economies by blaming private sector actors when their policies fail. Instead of acting as the people’s servants, governments have become their controllers, expecting the public’s sheep-like cooperation in economic and monetary affairs. The state issues its currency backed by unquestioned faith and credit in the government’s monopoly to issue and manage it. Seeming to recognise the potential failure of their currency monopolies many central banks now intend to issue a new version, a central bank digital currency to give greater control over how citizens use and value it. Without doubt, the dangers from fiat currency instability are increasing. Never has it been more important for ordinary people, its users, to understand what real money constitutes and its difference from state-issued currencies. Not only are new currencies in the form of central bank digital currencies being proposed but some suggest that distributed ledger cryptocurrencies, which are beyond the control of governments, will be adopted when state fiat currencies fail, an eventual development for which increasing numbers of people expect. The currency scene is descending into a confusion for which policy planners are unprepared. Fiat currencies are failing, evidenced by declining purchasing power. Not only is it the lesson of history; not only are governments resorting to the printing press or its digital equivalent, but it is naïve to think that governments desire monetary stability over satisfying the interests of one group over those of another. By suppressing interest rates, central banks favour borrowers over depositors. By issuing additional currency they transfer wealth from their governments’ electors. The transfer is never equitable either, with early receivers of new currency getting to spend it before prices have adjusted to accommodate the increased quantity in circulation. Those who receive it last find that prices have risen because of currency dilution while their income has been devalued. The beneficiaries are those close to government and the banks who expand credit by ledger entry. The losers are the poor and pensioners — the people who in democratic theory are more morally entitled to protection from currency debasement than anyone else. The true role of money In the late eighteenth century, a French businessman and economist, Jean-Baptiste Say, noticed that when France’s currencies failed during the Revolution, people simply exchanged goods for other goods. A cobbler would exchange the shoes and boots he made for the food and other items he required to feed and sustain his family. The principles behind the division of labour had continued without money. But it became clear to Say that the role of money was to facilitate this exchange more efficiently than could be achieved in its absence. For Keynesian economists, this is the inconvenient truth of Say’s law. The division of labour, which permits individuals to deploy their personal skills to the greatest benefit for themselves and therefore for others, remains central to the commercial actions of all humanity. It is the mainspring of progress. A medium of exchange commonly accepted by society not only facilitates the efficient exchange of goods produced through individual skills but it allows a producer to retain money temporarily for future consumption. This can be because he has a surplus for his immediate requirements, or he decides to invest it in improving his product, increasing his output, or for other purposes than immediate consumption. Whether it is a corporation, manager, employee, or sole trader; whether the product be a good or a service— all qualify as producers. Everyone earning a living or striving to make a profit is a producer. Over the many millennia that have elapsed since the end of barter, people dividing their labour settled on metallic money as the mediums of exchange; recognisable, divisible, commonly accepted, and being scarce also valuable. And as civilisation progressed gold, silver, and copper were coined into recognisable units. These media of exchange in their unadulterated form were money, and even though they were stamped with images of kings and emperors, they were no one’s liability. Nowadays, humans across the planet still recognise physical gold and silver as true money. But it is a mistake to think they guarantee price stability — only that they are more stable than other media of exchange, which is why they have always survived and re-emerged after alternatives have failed. This is the key to understanding why they guaranteed money substitutes, notably through industrial revolutions, and remain money to this day. Britain led the way in replacing silver as its long-standing monetary standard with gold, relegating silver to a secondary coinage. In 1817 the new gold sovereign was introduced at the exchange rate equivalent of 113 grains (0.2354 ounces troy) to the pound currency. A working gold standard, whereby bank notes were exchangeable for gold coin commenced in 1821, remaining at that fixed rate until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. By 1900, the gold standard had international as well as domestic aspects. It implied that nations settled balance of payment differences with each other in gold, although in practice this seems to have happened relatively little. Many smaller nations, while having domestic gold circulation, did not bother to keep physical gold in reserve, but held sterling balances which, again, were regarded as being as good as gold. The Bank of England had a remarkably small reserve of under 200 tonnes in 1900, compared with the Bank of France which held 544 tonnes, the Imperial Bank of Russia with 661 tonnes, and the US Treasury with 602 tonnes. But even though remarkably little gold was held by the Bank of England, over 1,400 tonnes of sovereign coins had been minted in Australia and the UK and were in public circulation. Therefore, some £200m of the UK and its empire’s money supply was in physical gold (the equivalent of £62bn at today’s prices). The relationship between gold and prices Metallic money’s purchasing power fluctuates, influenced by long-term factors such as changes in mine output and population growth. Gold is also held for non-monetary purposes such as jewellery though the distinction between bullion held as money and jewellery can be fuzzy. A minor use is industrial. The degree of coin circulation relative to the quantity of substitutes also affects its purchasing power, as experience from nineteenth century Britain attests. The economic progress of the industrial revolution increased the volume of goods relative to the quantity of money and money-substitutes (bank notes and bank deposits subject to cheques), so the general level of producer prices declined, even though they varied with changes in the level of bank credit. That generally held until the late-1880s, when bank credit in the economy expanded on the back of increased shipments of gold from South Africa. Furthermore, a combination of rising demand for industrial commodities through economic expansion of the entire British empire and more currencies linking themselves to gold indirectly via managed exchange rates against pounds and other gold-backed currencies all contributed to reverse the declining trend of wholesale prices between 1894—1914. Consequently, wholesale prices no longer declined but tended to increase modestly. This is shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 also explodes the myth in central bank monetary policy circles that varying interest rates controls money’s purchasing power by “pricing” money. Demand for credit is set by the economic calculations of businessmen and entrepreneurs, not idle rentiers as assumed by Keynes who named this paradox after Arthur Gibson, who pointed it out in 1923. The explanation eluded Keynes and his followers but is simple. In assessing the profitability of production, the most important variable (assuming that the means of production are readily available) is anticipated prices for finished products. Changes in borrowing rates, reflecting the affordability of interest that could be paid therefore do not precede changes in prices but follow changes in prices for this reason. While fluctuations in the sum of the quantities of money, currency and credit affect the general level of prices, there is an additional effect of the value placed on these components by its users. History has demonstrated that the most stable value is placed on gold coin, which is what qualifies it as money. It has been said that priced in gold a Roman toga 2,000 years ago cost the same as a lounge suit today. But we don’t need to go back that far for our evidence. Figure 2 shows WTI oil priced in dollars, the world’s reserve currency, and gold both indexed to 1986. Clearly, the dollar is significantly less reliable than gold as a stable medium of exchange. So long as gold is freely exchangeable for currency, this stability is imparted to currency as well. When it is suspected that this exchangeability is likely to be compromised, coin becomes hoarded and disappears from circulation. The purchasing power of the currency then becomes dependent on a combination of changes in its quantity and changes in faith in the issuer. Bank deposits face the additional risk of faith in the bank’s ability to pay its debts. In summary, the general level of prices tends to fall gradually over time in an economy where gold coin circulates as the underlying medium of exchange, and when faith in the currency as its circulating alternative is unquestioned. The existence of a coin exchange facility lifts the purchasing power of the currency above where it would otherwise be without a functioning standard. Even when gold exchange for a fiat currency becomes restricted, the purchasing power of the currency continues to enjoy some support, as we saw during the Bretton Woods Agreement. The distinction between money and currency So far, we have defined money, which is metallic and physical. Now we turn to what is erroneously taken to be money, which is currency. Originally, the dollar and pound sterling were freely exchangeable by its users for silver and then gold coin, so state-issued currencies came to be assumed to be as good as money. But its exchangeability diminished over time. In the United Kingdom exchangeability of sterling currency for gold coin ceased with the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, though sovereigns still exist as money officially today. They are simply subject to Gresham’s law, driven out of general circulation by inferior currency. The post-war gold standard of 1925-32 was a bullion standard whereby only 400-ounce bars could be demanded for circulating currency, which failed to tie in sterling to money proper. In the United States, gold coin was exchangeable for dollars in the decades before April 1933 at $20.67 to the ounce. Bank failures following the Wall Street crash encouraged citizens to exchange dollar deposits for gold, and foreign holders of dollar deposits similarly demanded gold, leading to a drain on American gold reserves. By Executive Order 6102 in April 1933 President Roosevelt banned private sector ownership of gold coin, gold bullion and gold certificates, thereby ending the gold coin standard and forcing Americans to accept inconvertible dollar currency as the circulating medium of exchange. This was followed by a devaluation of the dollar on the international exchanges to $35 to the ounce in January 1934. The entire removal of money from the global currency system was a gradual process, driven by a progression of currency events, until August 1971 when President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods Agreement. From then on, the US dollar became the world’s reserve currency, commonly used for pricing commodities and energy on international markets. But following the Nixon shock, the dollar had become purely fiat. Unlike gold coin, which has no counterparty risk, fiat currency is evidence of either a liability of an issuing central bank or of a commercial bank. It is not money. The fact that money, being gold or silver coin does not commonly circulate as media of exchange, cannot alter this fact. Since the dawn of modern banking with London’s goldsmiths in the seventeenth century, who deployed ledger debits and credits, most currency entitlements have been held in bank deposits, which are not the property of deposit customers, being liabilities of the banks and owed to them. It started with depositors placing specie with goldsmiths or transferring currency to them from other accounts on the understanding a goldsmith would deploy the funds so acquired to obtain sufficient profit to pay a 6% interest on deposits. To earn this return, it was agreed by the depositor that the funds would become the goldsmith’s property to be used as the goldsmith saw fit. Goldsmiths and their banking successors were and still are dealers in credit. As the goldsmiths’ banking business evolved, they would create deposits by extending credit to borrowers. A loan to the borrower appeared as an asset on a goldsmith’s balance sheet, which through double-entry book-keeping was balanced by a liability being the deposit facility from which the borrower would draw down the loan. Thus, money and currency issued by banks as claims upon them were replaced entirely by book-entry liabilities owed to depositors, encashable into specie, central bank currency or banker’s cheque only on demand. Through the expansion of bank credit, which is matched by the creation of deposits through double-entry book-keeping, commercial banks create liabilities subject to withdrawal as currency to this day. That there is an underlying cycle of expansion and contraction of bank credit is evidenced by the composite price index and bond yields between 1817 and 1885 shown in Figure 1 above. But so long as money, that is gold coin, remained exchangeable with currency and bank deposits on demand, fluctuations in outstanding bank credit only had a relatively short-term effect on the general level of prices. And as explained above, the expansion of the quantity of above-ground gold stocks from South African mines in the late 1880s contributed to the general level of prices increasing in the final decade of the nineteenth century until the First World War. Following the Great War, the earlier creation of the Federal Reserve Board in the United States led to the expansion of circulating dollar currency, fuelling the Roaring Twenties and the Wall Street bubble, followed by the Wall Street crash and the depression. These calamities were the inevitable consequence of excessive credit creation in the 1920s. The error made by statist economists at the time (and ever since) was to ignore what caused the depression, believing it to be a contemporaneous failure of capitalism instead of the consequence of earlier currency debasement and interest rate suppression. From then on, this error has been perpetuated by statists frustrated by the discipline imposed upon them by monetary gold. The solution was seen to be to remove money from the currency system so that the state would have unlimited flexibility to manage economic outcomes. With America dominating the global economy after the First World War, her use of the dollar both domestically and internationally had begun to dominate global economic outcomes. The errors of earlier currency expansion ahead of and during the Roaring Twenties, admittedly exacerbated by the introduction of farm machinery, led to a global slump in agricultural prices the following decade. And the additional error of Glass Stegall tariffs collapsed global trade in all goods. Following the Second World War, secondary wars in Korea and Vietnam led to exported dollars being accumulated and then sold by foreign central banks for American’s gold reserves. In 1948, America had 21,628.4 tonnes of gold reserves, 72% of the world total. By 1971, when the facility for central banks to encash dollars for gold was suspended, US gold reserves had fallen to 12,398 tonnes, 34% of world gold reserves. Today it stands officially at 8,133.5 tonnes, being less than 23% of world gold reserves — figures independently unaudited and suspected by many observers to overstate the true position. The consequences of currency expansion for the relationship between money and currency since the two were completely severed in 1971 is shown in Figure 3. Since 1960 (the indexed base of the chart) above-ground gold stocks have increased from 62,475 tonnes by about 200% to 189,000 tonnes — offset to a large degree by world population growth.[iv] M3 broad money has increased by 70 times, the disparity in these rates of increase being adjusted by the increase in the dollar price of money, with the dollar losing 98% of its purchasing power relative to gold. By basing the chart on 1960 much of the currency expansion which led to the collapse of the London gold pool in the mid-1960s is captured, illustrating the strains in the relationship that led to the Nixon shock. The rival status of cryptocurrencies Over the last decade, led by bitcoin cryptocurrencies have become a popular hedge against fiat currency debasement. Bitcoin has a finite limit of 21 million coins, having less than 2¼ million yet to be mined. And of those issued, some are irretrievably lost, theoretically adding to their value. Fans of cryptocurrencies are unusual, because they have grasped the essential weakness of state-issued fiat currencies ahead of the wider public. Armed with this knowledge they claim that distributed ledger technology independent from governments will form the basis of tomorrow’s money. It has led to a speculative frenzy, driving bitcoin’s price from a reported 10,000 for two pizzas in 2010 (therefore worth less than a cent each) to over $60,000 today. If, as hodlers hope, bitcoin replaces all state-issued fiat currencies when they fail, then the increase in its dollar value has much further to go. In theory there are reasons that bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies can become media of exchange in a limited capacity, but never money, the basis that all currencies referred to for their original validity. Indeed, some transactions following the original pizza purchase have occurred since, but they are very few. The reasons bitcoin or rival cryptocurrencies are unlikely to be accepted widely as currencies, let alone as a replacement for money, are best summed up in the following bullet points. To replace money, as opposed to currencies, bitcoin would have to be accepted as a replacement for both gold and silver. Beyond the imagination of tech-savvy enthusiasts, making up perhaps less than one in two hundred transacting humans, it is impossible to see bitcoin achieving this goal, because they represent a vanishingly small number of the global population. There can be little doubt that if fiat currencies lose their utility the overwhelming majority of transacting individuals will desire physical money, and not another form of digital media, which currencies in the main and cryptocurrencies have become. Despite the advance of technology not everyone yet possesses the knowledge, media, or the reliable electricity and internet connections to conduct transactions in cryptocurrencies. Remote theft of them is easier and more profitable than that of gold and silver coin. Cryptocurrencies are too dependent on undefinable risk factors for transactional ubiquity. The number of rival cryptocurrencies has proliferated. It is estimated that there are now over 6,800 in existence compared with 180 government-issued currencies. They represent both an inflation of numbers and values, which if unsatisfied already makes the seventeenth century tulip mania look like to have been a relatively minor speed bump in comparison. In only a decade they have grown to $750 billion in value based on an unproven concept stimulating unallayed human greed at the expense of considered reason. By way of contrast, gold’s strength as money is its flexibility of supply from other uses combined with its record of ensuring price stability. As we saw in Figure 1’s illustration of the relationship between prices and borrowing costs, assuming the factors of production are available the stability of prices under a gold standard permits an assessment of final product values at the commencement of an investment in production. There is no such certainty with bitcoin or rival cryptocurrencies because a strictly finite quantity would make it impossible to calculate final prices at the end of an investment in production. Without providing the means for economic calculation, any money or currency replacement will fail. Unless they disappear with their currencies, central banks will never sanction distributed ledger currencies beyond their control acting as a general medium of exchange. This is one reason why they are working to introduce their own central bank digital currencies, allowing them to maintain statist control over currencies while extending powers over how they are used. Furthermore, central banks do not own cryptocurrencies, but they do officially own 35,554 tonnes of gold, having never discarded true money completely.[vi] Events have proved that they are even reluctant to allow monetary gold to circulate, not least because it would call into question the credibility of their fiat currencies. But if there is a fall-back position in the demise of fiat, it will be based on central bank gold and never on a private-sector cryptocurrency. We should also consider what happens to cryptocurrencies in the event of a fiat currency collapse. The point behind any money or currency is that it must possess all the objective value in a transaction with all subjectivity to be found in the goods or services being exchanged. It requires the currency to be scarce, but not so much that its value measured in goods is expected to continually rise. If that was the case, then its ability to circulate would become impaired through hoarding. We are left with questioning whether bitcoin can ever possess a purely objective value in transactions. Their potential role as a transacting currency will also evaporate along with fiat because these will be the circumstances where all currencies which cannot be issued as credible gold substitutes will become valueless, because if any currency is to survive the end of the fiat regime it will require action by central banks combined with new laws and regulations which can only come from governments. The nightmare for crypto enthusiasts is that central banks will be forced eventually to mobilise their gold reserves to back credibly what is left of their currencies’ collapsing purchasing power. We are providing an answer to another question over the fate of cryptocurrencies in the event that central banks are forced to mobilise their gold reserves, turning fiat currencies into credible money substitutes. Admittedly, it is unlikely to be a simple decision with the problem beyond the understanding of statist policy advisers and with competing interests seeking to influence the outcome. But, there can be only one action that will allow the state and banking system to retain control over currencies and credit, which is to back them with gold reserves, preferably with a gold coin standard. When that moment is anticipated, cryptocurrencies as potential circulating currencies will become fully redundant. They are then likely to lose most of or all their value as replacement currencies. Furthermore, it is hard to find anyone who currently holds a cryptocurrency who does not hope to cash in by selling them at higher prices for their national currencies. They have been bought for speculation and investment with little or no intention of ultimately spending them. Therefore, we can assume that the demise of fiat currencies, far from inviting replacements by bitcoin and its imitators, will also mean the death of the cryptocurrency phenomenon in a general return towards a money standard, which always has been physical and metallic. The progression towards currency destruction In last week’s article for Goldmoney I suggested four waypoints to mark the route towards the ending of the fiat currency system. The similarity of current events with those of John Law’s inflation and subsequent collapse of the Mississippi bubble and of the French livre so far is striking, but this time it’s on a global scale. The John Law experience offers us a template for what is already happening to financial assets and currencies today — hence the four waypoints. Briefly described, John Law was a proto-Keynesian money crank who operated a policy of inflating the values of his principal assets, the Banque Royale and his Mississippi venture, by issuing shares in partly paid form with calls due later. Ten per cent down translated into fortunes for early subscribers as share prices rose from L140 in June 1717 to over L10,000 in January 1720, fuelled by a bitcoin-style buying frenzy. But when calls became due in January 1720 and a scheme to merge the Banque Royale with the Mississippi venture was proposed, shares began to be sold to pay the calls and take up rights to new issues. Law used his position as controller of the currency to issue fiat livres to buy shares in the market to support prices, measures that finally failed in May. Priced in livres, the shares fell to under 3,500 by November. In sterling, they fell from £330 in January to below £50 in September. After October, there was no exchange rate for livres against sterling implying the livre had lost all its exchange value. By injecting cash into investing institutions in return for government bonds, central banks are following a remarkably similar policy today. Quantitative easing by the US’s central bank, which since March 2020 has injected over $2 trillion into US pension funds and insurance companies to invest in higher risk assets than government and agency bonds, is no less than a repetition of John Law’s policy of inflating asset values to ensure a spreading wealth effect, while ensuring finance is facilitated for the state. Last night (3 November) the Fed was forced to announce a phased reduction of quantitative easing to allay fears of intractable price inflation. The question now arises as to how many months of QE reduction it will take to deflate the financial asset bubble. And what will then be the Fed’s response: will QE be increased again in a repetition of the John Law proto-Keynesian mistakes? There comes a point where the prices of goods reflect the increased quantity of currency in circulation. Increases in the general level of prices inevitably lead to rising levels for interest rates, and the creation of credit in the main banking centres begin to go into reverse. John Law found that share prices could then no longer be supported, and the Mississippi bubble burst in May 1720; a fate which equity markets today will almost certainly face, because price rises for goods and services are now proving intractable. The outcome of Law’s proto-Keynesianism was a collapse in Mississippi shares, and the complete destruction of the livre. The similarity with the situation in financial markets today is truly remarkable. There are now no good options for policy makers. Hampered by similar neo-Keynesian errors and beliefs, central bankers and politicians lack the resolve to stop events leading inexorably towards the destruction of their currencies. The first waypoint in last week’s article for Goldmoney is now being seen: a growing realisation that major economies, particularly the US and UK, face the prospect of a combination of rising prices accompanied by an economic slump, frequently diagnosed as stagflation. Stagflation is a misnomer. Monetary inflation is a con which in smaller doses provides the illusion of stimulus. But there comes a point where the transfer of wealth from the productive economy to the government is too great to bear and the economy begins to collapse. While it is impossible to judge where that point lies, the accumulation of monetary inflation in recent years now weighs heavily on all major economies. The conditions today closely replicate those in France in late-1719 and early 1720. Prices were rising in the rural areas as well as in the cities, impoverishing the peasantry and asset inflation was running into headwinds, about to impoverish the beneficiaries of the bubble’s wealth effect as well. Conclusion If central banks decide to protect their currencies, they must let markets determine interest rates. With prices rising officially at over 5% in the US (more like 15% on independent estimates) the rise in interest rates will not only crash all financial asset values from fixed interest to equities, but force governments to rein in their spending to eliminate deficits. This will involve greater cuts than currently indicated, because of loss of tax revenues. Indeed, mandatory spending will put socialising governments in an impossible position. But even these measures are unlikely to protect currencies, because of extensive foreign ownership of the US dollar. Foreigners hold total some $33 trillion in financial assets and bank deposits, much of which will be liquidated or lost in a bear market. Long experience suggests that funds rescued from overexposure to foreign currencies will be repatriated. Alternatively, attempts to continue the inflationary policies of Keynesian money cranks will undermine currencies more rapidly, but this is almost certainly the line of least policy resistance — until it is too late. It has never been more important for the hapless citizen to recognise what is happening to currencies and to understand the fallacies behind cryptocurrencies. They are not practical replacements for state-issued currencies and are likely to turn out to be just another aspect of the financial bubble. The only protection from an increasingly likely collapse of the fiat money system and all that sails with it is to understand what constitutes money as opposed to currency; and that is only physical gold and silver coins and bars. Tyler Durden Sat, 11/13/2021 - 09:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 13th, 2021

American Defense Policy After Twenty Years Of War

American Defense Policy After Twenty Years Of War Authored by Jim Webb via NationalInterest.org, America has always been a place where the abrasion of continuous debate eventually produces creative solutions. Let’s agree on those solutions, and make the next twenty years a time of clear purpose and affirmative global leadership. The American scorecard for foreign policy achievements over the past twenty years is, frankly, pretty dismal. And without talking our way all around the globe, it’s clear that the most dismal score goes to the stupidest mistakes. We fought one war that we never should have fought and another war whose objectives grew so out of control that no amount of battlefield proficiency could overcome the naïve mission creep of the political and military leadership at the top that was defining what our troops were supposed to do. So, let me start with a couple of quotes from two pieces I wrote, one at the beginning of this twenty-year period and the other at the end.   On September 4, 2002, five months before the Bush administration ordered the invasion of Iraq, I wrote the following as part of a larger editorial for the Washington Post, warning that an invasion would be a strategic blunder: Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall. Indeed, if one gives the Chinese credit for having a long-term strategy — and those who love to quote Sun Tzu might consider his nationality — it lends credence to their insistent cultivation of the Muslim world. An “American war” with the Muslims, occupying the very seat of their civilization, would allow the Chinese to isolate the United States diplomatically as they furthered their own ambitions in South and Southeast Asia. Almost exactly nineteen years later as the military planners serving the Biden Administration executed a shamefully incompetent final withdrawal from Afghanistan, I wrote the following for The National Interest, excerpted in the Wall Street Journal, in a piece entitled “Requiem for an Avoidable Disaster:”  …the war that we began was not the same war that we are finally bringing to an end. When we went into Afghanistan in 2001 our national concern was to eliminate terrorist entities who desired to attack us. The common understanding at the time was that we would operate with maneuver elements capable of attacking and neutralizing terrorist entities. It was never to occupy territory with permanent bases or to attempt to change the societal and governmental structure of the Afghan people. This “mission creep” began after a few years of successful operations and was obvious in 2004 when I was in the country as an embed journalist. The change in mission eventually increased our troop presence tenfold and sent our forces on an impossible political journey that no amount of military success could overcome. Why did all this happen? And how can we rectify the damage that has been done to the institutions that were involved, and to our international credibility? There’s an old saying that “success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.” In this case, there were two entirely different categories of orphans, some of whom were not touched personally or even professionally, and some who gave up lives, limbs, and emotional health. For the policymakers in Washington, these were wars to be remotely managed inside the guide rails of theoretical national strategy and uncontrolled financial planning. As with so many other drawn-out military commitments with vaguely defined and often changing objectives, America’s diplomatic credibility steadily decreased while the price tag rose through the roof, into trillions of dollars and thousands of combat deaths. There is no way around the reality that these hand-selected policymakers, military and civilian alike, failed the country, even as many of them were being lionized in the media and offered lucrative post-retirement positions in the private sector. Their immediate strategic goals, vague as they were from the outset, were not accomplished. The larger necessity of meeting global challenges, and particularly China’s determined expansion, was put on the back burner as our operational and diplomatic capabilities were diverted into a constantly quarreling region with the deserved reputation of being the “Graveyard of Empires.” In the context of history, the human cost on the battlefield as viewed by those at the top was manageably small, and carried out by an all-volunteer military. Indeed, despite the length of twenty years of war and many ferocious engagements, the overall casualty numbers were historically low. DOD reports the total number of American military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over twenty years as 7,074, of which 5,474 were killed in action. This twenty-year number was about the same as six months of American casualties during any one of the peak years of fighting in Vietnam. Emotionally, although there was much sympathy and respect for our soldiers we were not really a nation in a fully engaged war. As the wars continued, life in America went on without disruption. A very small percentage of the country was at human or even family risk. The wars did not interfere on a national scale with the lives of those who chose not to serve. The economy was largely good. In places like my home state of Virginia it absolutely boomed with tens of billions of dollars going to Virginia-based programs in the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. This societal disconnect gave the policymakers great latitude in the manner in which they ran the wars. It also resulted in very little congressional oversight, either in operational concepts or in much-need scrutiny of DOD and State Department management and budgets. Powerpoint presentations replaced vigorous discussion. Serious introspection by Pentagon staff members gave way to bland reports from Beltway Bandit consultants hired to provide answers to questions asked during committee hearings. An “Overseas Contingency Fund” with billions of unlabeled dollars allowed military leaders to fund programs that were never directly authorized or specifically appropriated by Congress. To be blunt, the Pentagon and the Joint commands were basically making their own rules, and to hell with everybody else. This was not the Congress in which I had worked as a full committee counsel during the Carter Administration. Nor was it the Pentagon in which I had served as an assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. At the other end of the pipeline, it was different. For those who did serve, and especially for those who served in ground combat units and in special operations, being thrown into the middle of a region where violence and bitter retribution is the norm was often a life-altering experience. Repetitive combat tours pulled them away from home, from family, and from the normal routines of their peers again and again, creating burnout from unresolved personal issues of stress and readjustment to civilian life. So-called “stop loss” programs kept many soldiers on active duty after their initial terms of service were supposed to end, a policy that brought the not-unreal slogan that stop-loss was, in reality, nothing more than a back-door version of the draft: We have you. And we are going to keep you until we no longer need you. The traditional policy of allowing troops a two-to-one ratio of “dwell time” at home between deployments was repeatedly shortened until, for the Army, the ratio was less than one-to-one, requiring soldiers to return to combat for fifteen months with only twelve months at home to recuperate, refurbish, and retrain. Those who left the military after one enlistment rather than choosing a career were largely ignored by commands that provided little post-military guidance and sent battle-weary young soldiers home without much more than a goodbye. But along the way, as with those who have served our country in uniform in every other war, our young military did the job that they were sent to do, no matter the overall wisdom of the mission itself. With respect to these capable and dedicated young Americans who stepped forward to serve, I feel fortunate to have been able to play a part in making sure that the public was aware of the contributions they made, and to put into place policies that recognized and properly rewarded their service. And as a writer, journalist and later a Senator I was able to use whatever pulpit was available in order to emphasize that our greatest strategic challenges were not in the places where our elites had decided to invest our people and our national treasure, and to call for the country’s leadership to cease its unfortunate obsession with a region that has never needed a permanent American ground presence as a means of mediating, much less resolving, its centuries-old conflicts. You don’t take out a hornet’s nest by sitting on top of it. We’re smarter than that, and also more capable.   In addition to working on strongly felt issues such as economic fairness and criminal justice reform, once I was elected to the Senate I took a two-pronged approach to resolving the mess that had been made in our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first involved our larger strategic interests. I immediately gained a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and two years later was named Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. From our immediate office, I designed a staff—and a legislative approach—that would energetically re-emphasize our commitment to relations in East Asia, and recruited good people to carry out that approach. My mission to my staff was that we were going to work to invigorate American relations in East Asia, particularly in South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines, and we were going to open up Burma to the outside world. We did more than talk about this, averaging three intense trips every year where I was able to meet with top leaders in those countries as well as almost every other country in ASEAN. Barack Obama later announced a similar policy after he was elected two years later, calling it the “Pivot to Asia.” Unfortunately, his administration’s approach skirted the largest issue in the region by avoiding any major confrontations with China. The pivot was largely abandoned at a crucial period in 2012 after China claimed sovereignty over a two million square kilometer area of the South China Sea, and began militarizing numerous contested islands claimed by several other countries. The Obama administration declined to criticize China’s actions, saying that the United States would not take a position on sovereignty issues. Quite obviously, not taking a position in this matter was defaulting to China’s aggressive acts. I responded by introducing a Senate resolution condemning any use of military force in the resolution of sovereignty issues in the South China Sea, which passed with a unanimous vote. The second involved the day-to-day manner in which our wars were being fought, and the way that our younger military people were being treated by those at the top. I participated in numerous hearings on all aspects from my seats on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, becoming even more concerned about the lack of serious congressional oversight. During one Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-invasion reconstruction efforts, an assistant secretary of state testified that the United States had spent 32 billion dollars on different smaller-scale projects.  I asked him to provide me and the committee a complete list of every project, as well as the cost. That was in 2007. I’m still waiting for his answer. This was clearly not the way things worked when I was a counsel in the House, where such requests were often answered within a day or two, from information that had already been compiled. In fact, the lack of an answer, despite follow-up calls from my staff, followed a broader pattern that had evolved after 9/11 when vague answers and delayed responses had become the norm, a deliberate and increasingly routine snub of the Congress by higher-level members of the executive branch. Take your choice. This was either incompetent leadership or deliberate obstruction. If the congressional liaisons from DOD were able to provide specific, complicated data within a day or two in 1977, certainly the computers of 2007 were capable of doing so after thirty years of technological progress. I responded by co-authoring legislation along with Senator Claire McCaskill that created the Wartime Contracts Commission, modeled after the Truman Commission of World War Two. After three years of investigations, the commission’s final report estimated that due to major failures in our contracting system the United States had squandered up to 60 billion dollars through contract waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the commission lacked subpoena power or criminal jurisdiction over actions taken in the past, but it certainly got the attention of would-be fraudsters, led to better record-keeping, improved the oversight process, and put a marker down for contracts from that point forward.   Having grown up in the military, and serving as an infantry Marine in Vietnam, and with a son who had left college to enlist in the Marine Corps infantry and fought in Ramadi, Iraq during one of the worst periods in that war, I seized the opportunity – and undertook the obligation – to properly reward the contributions of those who had stepped forward to serve. Immediately after I won the election to the Senate, and two months before actually being sworn in, I sat down with the Senate legislative counsel and drafted the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Having spent four years as a full committee counsel on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, my legislative model was the GI Bill that had been given to our World War Two veterans, the most generous GI Bill in history up to that time: pay for the veteran’s tuition and fees, buy the books, and provide a monthly living stipend. For every tax dollar that was spent on the World War Two GI bill, our treasury received eight dollars in tax remunerations from veterans who had gone on to successful lives. By contrast, the Vietnam Era GI Bill had provided only a monthly payment that in almost every case was far less than the costs of higher education, beginning in 1966 at a paltry rate of 50 dollars a month and ending in the early 1970s at $340 a month. I introduced the Post-9/11 GI Bill on my first day as a Senator. I put together a bipartisan leadership team—two Republicans, John Warner and Chuck Hagel; two Democrats, Frank Lautenberg and myself; two of them World War Two veterans, and two of them Vietnam veterans. Sixteen months later in a modern-day Congressional miracle, the bill became law, ironically over the strong opposition of the Bush Administration to the very end. The White House and the Pentagon claimed that such a generous bill would affect retention, causing too many people to leave the military. The obvious but implicit message was, Don’t treat them too good; they’ll leave. This position was taken by general officers who were going to receive a couple of hundred thousand dollars every year in military retirement when they themselves decided to leave. Having spent five years in the Pentagon and being intimately familiar with manpower issues, I held a completely different belief, that the generosity of the new GI Bill would enhance enlistments and help broaden the base of our overall military. In a back-handed compliment, at least in my view, I was not invited to the White House for the ceremony when the President signed the bill. But to date, millions of post-9/11 veterans have used this Bill, which is beyond cavil the most generous GI Bill in history. It has created opportunities and empowered the careers of people who are now making their way into positions of leadership and influence throughout the country. Shortly after I introduced the GI Bill, I introduced legislation to mandate a proper ratio for dwell time between overseas deployments. The legislation would have required that military members not be returned to combat unless they had been home for at least the amount of time that they had previously been gone. This was not unreasonable. A two-to-one ratio was a simple formula that reflected traditional rotation cycles. With the continuous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan it had fallen to less than one-to-one, which meant that for years our soldiers would be gone longer than they were at home, and when they were at home they would be spending much of their time getting ready to go back. This reality was clearly affecting not only morale but also the potential for long-term emotional difficulties such as post-traumatic stress. Predictably, the White House and the Pentagon opposed the legislation. Some claimed that I had designed it with a hidden agenda to slow down the war in Iraq. Others, led by Senator Lindsey Graham, claimed that the legislation was unconstitutional, that Congress could not intervene in the operational tempo of the military since the President was the Commander in Chief. But a precedent was already set. During the Korean War, Congress had ceased the deployment of soldiers who were being sent to the war zone without proper training by mandating that no military members could be deployed overseas unless they had spent 120 days on active duty. If the military leaders weren’t going to take care of their people, it was only right that Congress should set proper boundaries. The Republicans filibustered the legislation, which then required sixty votes for passage. Although the bill twice received a fifty-six vote majority, with several Republican votes for passage, we did not break the filibuster.  But we did put the issue of dwell time firmly before Congress and the public, and the two-to-one deployment cycle eventually became the express goal inside the Department of Defense. All of that is history. I put it before you as something of a template to show the patterns that evolved and have continued over the past twenty years, as well as evidence that strong and informed leadership in Congress can turn things around. In many ways, this dislocation is between those who make policy—including military leaders—and those who carry it out. It continues due to the group mentality of a foreign policy aristocracy seeking common agreement rather than original thought. And it has exacerbated this ever-growing dislocation by freezing out those who are not, basically, in the club because their thinking does not fit the usual mantra and their ideas threaten the prevailing orthodoxy. We need these other voices. There are lessons to be learned and unavoidable questions that need to be answered at every level. Some involve the articulation of our national security objectives and how we define national strategy. Some involve when and how we should use the military for operational missions in harm’s way. And some involve the actual makeup of these military missions, from their remote or covert or overt nature, and if deployed in large numbers how large that footprint should be, and what portion should consist of military contractors along the lines of the past twenty years. And for those who want to repair the damage, it challenges us to find clear ways where we can move forward. Who do we hold accountable for the random and often changing strategic mistakes that have damaged our strength and our reputation? How do we move forward in the way we articulate and implement our national strategy here at home? How do we regain our respect in the international community, both among our friends who need us, and from potential adversaries who pray every day that America will lose its willpower, that we would be so overcome by military failures abroad and turbulence at home that the nation itself will atrophy and descend into the ranks of an also-ran, second-rate power?   We should begin with a vigorous and open discussion about the makeup, power, and influence of America’s massive defense establishment. And here I’m talking about the highest levels of our uniformed military, the civilian government officials, the powerful defense corporations, the numerous think tanks funded heavily by the defense industry, the hugely influential lobbying organizations, and—if not at the bottom, certainly in the bullseye of the efforts of all of these entities—the authorizing and appropriating committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. Couple that with the media of all sorts, particularly the huge growth of the internet and social media, and one can see how complicated the debate over any controversial issue can become. We were warned about this, sixty years ago, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his well-remembered speech about the “military / industrial complex.” The speech was the president’s carefully placed farewell message to the American people, made just three days before he left office. His words resonate, symbolic in their timing as his final shot across the bow, and coming as they did from this former five-star general who knew the military with a completeness that no other American president could ever match. After commenting that in the aftermath of World War Two the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience,” Eisenhower expressed his concern about the “total influence – economic, political, even spiritual” of this new reality “in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.”   The outgoing, immensely popular President then bluntly called out the members of his own professional culture—the military itself—and the bond its top leaders were increasingly forming with America’s defense corporations. “In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military / industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” Looking at the decades following his speech and particularly the past twenty years, I believe President Eisenhower would be amazed at how massively this military-industrial complex has grown, how entangled the relationships between the military and the industrial complex have become, and how much it has affected the career paths of civilian “experts,” as well as the positions taken by many senior flag officers facing retirement. Lucrative civilian careers have been made through the “revolving doors” of serving for a few years in appointed posts in the Departments of Defense and State, or by working on committee staffs in the Congress, then rotating over the space of many years in and out of government into the defense-oriented industry and in the ever more influential think tanks, some of them heavily funded by corporations with major financial interests in defense contracts. The number of people involved in such revolving doors and the amount of money flowing back and forth would have stunned the understanding of people in Eisenhower’s era. Likewise, many military officers have made similar career moves, taking advantage of skills and relationships that were developed while on active duty. Those in uniform and others who work in the area of national defense regularly comment about the potential for conflicts of interest among the most senior flag officers as they carry out their final active duty positions before retiring and prepare for their next career in the civilian world. Critical issues ranging from the procurement of weapons systems to carrying out politically sensitive military operations often comprise the way in which potential civilian employers decide on the next chapter in their lives. A hand played well can bring large financial benefits. A hand played poorly can result in media stigma or even being relieved of their duties, and a beach house in Tarpon Springs. As with other areas of public service, it would be useful for Congress to examine the firewalls in place in order to maintain the vitally important separation of the military, on the one side, and the industrial complex on the other, just as President Dwight Eisenhower so prophetically pointed out sixty years ago. Dwight Eisenhower would have liked General Robert Barrow, the twenty-seventh commandant of the Marine Corps. His leadership example personally inspired me, both during and after my service in the Corps. We had many personal discussions over the years, until he passed away in 2008. He was a great combat leader. He mastered guerrilla warfare while fighting Japanese units alongside Chinese soldiers in World War Two. In the Korean War, he received the Navy Cross, our country’s second-highest award, for extraordinary heroism as a company commander during the historic breakout from the Chosin Reservoir. And in Vietnam, he was known as one of the war’s finest regimental commanders. He knew war, he knew loyalty, and he knew his Marines. General Barrow was fond of emphasizing that moral courage was often harder, and more exemplary, than physical courage. On matters of principle, he would not bend. During one difficult period when he was dealing with serious issues in the political process, the four-star Commandant calmly pointed out to me that his obligation was to run the Marine Corps “the same way a good company commander runs his rifle company: I’ll do the best job I know how to do, and if you don’t like what I’m doing, then fire me.” It is rare these days to see such leaders wearing the stars of a general or an admiral. And thinking of President Eisenhower’s prescient warnings about what he termed the “the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,” I have no doubt that he and General Barrow shared the same concerns. General Barrow held another firm belief. Having served as Commandant of the Marine Corps, he believed it would soil the dignity of that office by trading on its credibility for financial gain through banging on doors in Washington as a lobbyist or serving as a board member giving a defense-related corporation his prized insider’s advice on how to sell their product. The Japanese have a saying that “life is a generation, but reputation is forever.” And General Barrow’s pristine motivation will forever preserve his honor. I grew up in the military. I know the price that families must pay when their fathers or now even their mothers are continuously deployed, because I lived it as a very young boy. My father, a pilot who flew B-17s and B-29s in World War Two and cargo planes in the Berlin Airlift, was continually deployed either overseas or on bases with no family housing, at one point for more than three years. I know the demands and yet the honor of leading infantry Marines in combat and then spending years in and out of the hospital after being wounded. I know what it is like to be a father with a son deployed in a very bad place as an enlisted infantry Marine. And most of all I know the pride that comes from being able to say for the rest of my life that when my country called, I was there, and I took care of my people. My other major point today is that our top leaders in all sectors of national defense need to get going and develop a clearly articulated foreign policy. We have lost twenty years, unfortunately fulfilling the prediction that I made in the Washington Post five months before the invasion of Iraq that “Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall.” And for China, indeed it was. It’s ironic that we are now hearing frantic warnings from our uniformed leaders about China’s determined expansionism, both military and economic, and particularly about how recent reports of Chinese technological leaps might be something of a new “Sputnik” moment where America has been caught off-guard and now must rush to catch up. Too bad they weren’t following this as these policies and technological improvements were developed by the Chinese over at least the past two decades, while our focus remained intently on the never-ending and never-resolved brawls in the Middle East. The very people who now are wringing their hands and calling for a full-fledged effort to counter such threats are the same people who should have been warning the nation of their possibility ten or even twenty years ago. So, ask yourself: If things go wrong, who then shall we blame? Much of the world is now uneasy with China’s unremitting aggression on its home turf in Asia. Over the past decade, China has been calling its own shots, rejecting international law and public opinion while flexing its muscle to signal its view that it will soon replace the United States as the region’s dominant military, diplomatic and economic power. Beijing has taken down Hong Kong’s democracy movement; started military spats with India; disrupted life for tens of millions by damming the headwaters of the Mekong River; conducted what our government now deems a campaign of genocide against Muslim Uighurs; escalated tensions with Japan over the Senkaku Islands; consolidated its illegal occupation and militarization of islands in the South China Sea; and made repeated bellicose gestures designed to test the international community’s resistance to “unifying” the “renegade province” of Taiwan. China’s military is expanding and modernizing and its Navy is becoming not only technological but global. While we expended a huge portion of our human capital, emotional energy, and national treasure on two wars, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has had a major economic impact in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and with individual governments on other continents. In Africa, whose population has quadrupled since 1970 and which counts only one of the world’s top thirty countries in Gross National Product, more than forty countries have signed on to China’s BRI. Let’s get going. We have alliances to enhance, and extensive national security interests to protect. We need to address these issues immediately and with clarity. America has always been a place where the abrasion of continuous debate eventually produces creative solutions. Eventually is now. Let’s agree on those solutions, and make the next twenty years a time of clear purpose and affirmative global leadership. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/09/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 9th, 2021

Sen. Mitt Romney warns Democrats against eliminating the filibuster, says they could face a future "unrestrained" Trump presidency

The Utah senator raised the prospect that former President Trump could win the White House in 2024 and govern without guardrails absent a filibuster. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Sen. Mitt Romney warned Democrats that eliminating the filibuster would be detrimental to the Senate. The Utah senator floated the prospect of Trump winning the White House in 2024 with a GOP Congress. Romney said that the Senate's empowerment of the minority produces centrist legislation. Sen. Mitt Romney last week warned Democrats against changing filibuster rules in the upper chamber, pointing to the prospect of Republicans seizing control of Congress in 2022 and former President Donald Trump potentially retaking the White House in 2024.The Utah Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 2018, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post and took part in opinion columnist James Hohmann's "Please, Go On" podcast to relay his message, pointing out that it would be foolhardy to alter the way in which the deliberative body operates.Romney referenced the Democratic push for voting-rights legislation with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act, both of which have attracted near-universal opposition from Republicans, who contend that the federal measures are tantamount to intruding into state election affairs.With the Senate split evenly between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, the former party controls the chamber due to Vice President Kamala Harris's tiebreaking vote. However, due to the 60-vote threshold needed to advance most pieces of legislation, Republicans can easily filibuster legislation not to their liking - which they have consistently done with the pair of voting-rights bills."If the Democrats say, 'Look, we're going to eliminate the filibuster just for voting rights,' I can assure you that the opposition party, when we are in the majority, will eliminate the filibuster for something else that we care about, that'll be important to us," Romney said on Hohmann's podcast. "And it'll be goodbye to the Senate as we know it."The senator argued in his op-ed that the protection of minority rights was paramount in the Senate, calling on Democrats to think about their collective predicament should they find themselves with fewer than 50 seats in the chamber."Note that in our federal government, empowerment of the minority is established in just one institution: the Senate," he wrote. "The majority decides in the House; the majority decides in the Supreme Court; and the president is a majority of one. Only in the Senate does the minority restrain the power of the majority.""That a minority should be afforded such political power is a critical element of the institution. For a law to pass in the Senate, it must appeal to senators in both parties. The Senate's minority empowerment has meant that our nation's policies inevitably tack toward the center," he added.During the interview on Hohmann's podcast, Romney said that the voting-rights bills which have been put on the Senate floor by Democrats have so far been unsuccessful because they were not written with GOP input."Pretty much, by definition, if a piece of legislation comes forward in the Senate with only one party behind it, with only one party that wrote it, it's not going to become a law. And things that get done are done with people who negotiate beforehand and write the bill on a bipartisan basis," he emphasized.Romney, who has long had an acrimonious relationship with Trump, brought up the prospect that the former president could win the presidency again - and used a cautionary tale of the GOP controlling Congress without the filibuster in place."Have Democrats thought through what it would mean for them for Trump to be entirely unrestrained, with the Democratic minority having no power whatsoever?" he asked in the op-ed.Romney in 2020 voted to convict Trump for abuse of power in the then-president's first impeachment trial centered on the Ukraine scandal. The senator also voted to convict Trump for "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 7th, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

5 Sinema Advisors Quit, Accuse Her Of "Selling Out" To Big Donors, As Far-Left Backlash Intensifies

5 Sinema Advisors Quit, Accuse Her Of 'Selling Out' To Big Donors, As Far-Left Backlash Intensifies While the New York Times attempts to augur Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's demands as she and fellow moderate Dem Sen. Joe Manchin continue their battle with progressive House Dems that has left President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda - an infrastructure bill and accompanying expansion of the social safety net - the backlash against her "obstructionist" stance has just prompted five veterans who once served on her semi-formal "advisory council" to resign in protest. In recent weeks, Sinema has been hounded by progressive activists who tried - but failed - to harangue her as she ran the Boston Marathon. Now, that pressure is likely about to be turned up to '11' as the former advisors accused her of "hanging your own constituents out to dry" in a letter that was just leaked to the New York Times. As President Biden struggles to quell the partisan battle over his agenda and sell it to the American people (as warnings about the potential for stoking further inflationary pressures multiply), progressives are getting increasingly desperate, and ramping up their attacks on Dem moderates who are in the middle of a pitched battle with progressives. According to the NYT, which "obtained" (ie was given) a copy of the letter, the former Sinema aides accuse her of placing the needs of wealthy donors ahead of the needs of her constituents. In a scathing letter obtained by The New York Times, the veterans took Ms. Sinema to task for her refusal to abolish the filibuster and her opposition to parts of Mr. Biden’s multitrillion-dollar social safety net, education, climate and tax plan, stances that have stymied some of his top priorities. "You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people," the veterans wrote in a letter that is to be featured in a new advertisement by Common Defense, a progressive veterans’ activist group that has targeted Ms. Sinema. "We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming," they added. Moreover, the NYT said the letter is the latest in a "crescendo of anger" directed at Sinema over her 'perplexing' tactics during the hectic negotiations, which have most recently centered on the tax hikes Dems' have promised to help offset the cost of both Biden's "bipartisan" infrastructure plan as well as his plan to expand the social safety net. Sinema is a key swing vote in this battle. But it's not just Sinema's stance on the tax hikes that's got the far-left so hot and bothered. There's a groundswell of anger over her opposition to scrapping the filibuster, which progressive Dems want to eliminate to help push through a version of the Biden agenda that they effectively dictate. The resignations add to a crescendo of anger and pressure that Ms. Sinema is facing from erstwhile allies who say they are perplexed by her recent tactics. She has resisted major elements of Democrats’ sprawling social safety net and climate bill, including raising individual income and corporate tax rates to pay for it. Because Democrats control the Senate with only 50 votes, even one defection could spell defeat for the measure, giving Ms. Sinema outsize influence to determine what can be included. Ms. Sinema has also steadfastly opposed changing the Senate’s filibuster rule, which effectively requires 60 votes to move forward on any major bill, even as Republicans have used it as a procedural weapon to block voting rights legislation and a bill to avert a federal debt default. Progressive activists have stepped up their campaign to push Democrats to do away with the rule so they can muscle Mr. Biden’s priorities through Congress on simple majority votes, and they have trained their anger on Ms. Sinema and another centrist holdout, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. One progressive activist quoted by the NYT said that Dems worked "so hard" to get Sinema elected, and now they feel betrayed. "Democrats were out desperately trying to help her win the seat, and now we feel like, what was it for?” Sylvia González Andersh, one of the veterans who signed the letter, said in an interview. "Nobody knows what she is thinking because she doesn’t tell anybody anything. It’s very sad to think that someone who you worked for that hard to get elected is not even willing to listen." Well, there is one person who knows - Nancy Pelosi. But apparently she won't tell. Despite campaigning on raising tax rates on corporations and high earners, Dems may finance the bill without it given Sinema's position, something Pelosi said was an option. Pelosi says that Dems are exploring options. "Her position is well known," Pelosi said to me of Sinema pic.twitter.com/70JymRP8Kl — Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 21, 2021 As time goes on, pressure on Sinema is only going to get worse. How much longer until she gets "Tucker Carlson'd" - or worse - by Antifa? Tyler Durden Thu, 10/21/2021 - 17:10.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 21st, 2021

Republicans Filibuster Democrats" Election Bill

Republicans Filibuster Democrats' Election Bill Authored by Joseph Lord via The Epoch Times, Republicans successfully filibustered the Democrats’ Freedom to Vote election bill Wednesday, denying the legislation the 60 votes needed to move on to floor debate. The bill would have created new requirements for groups to disclose information about their donors, named Election Day a national holiday, and created federal standards for voting by mail, early voting, and voter ID.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the Republican vote, saying “I wanna be clear about what just happened. Every single Republican senator just blocked this chamber from having a debate on Americans’ rights to free and fair elections.” The results of the vote are unsurprising, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made clear that his caucus would not support the bill. The Kentucky Republican on Tuesday reported his “hope and anticipation” that the bill, which he decried as an effort “to have the federal government take over how elections are conducted all over America,” would fail to win Republican support. Since they took control of the government, Democrats have insisted that voting rights are under assault across the nation as states strengthen their voting laws. These critics claim that laws to bolster voter ID requirements or to limit absentee voting disproportionately affect minorities, an argument that the Supreme Court rejected in 2021 (pdf). Republicans, for their part, have expressed concerns about the threat of election fraud after inconsistencies in the 2020 election left many skeptical. Others, like McConnell and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have emphasized the importance of allowing states to control their own elections rather than the federal government intervening. This bill, the latest among a wave of election bills proposed by the Democrats since January, was crafted as a compromise election bill led by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). However, Senate Republicans have long made clear that they are unanimously opposed to federal election reform. Despite some hopes that Manchin’s compromise bill could draw the 10 needed Republicans across the aisle, Republicans unanimously united against the bill. Schumer and other Democrats applauded the bill. On Twitter, Schumer wrote that the bill “would fortify our democracy, protect the vote, and renew the American people’s trust in our elections.” “Democrats are ready to have this debate right now,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. The legislation is “a bill that every Senate Democrat is united behind, enthusiastically.” Before the vote, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Republicans to at least consider the motion and not to use the filibuster, which he called “the weapon of Jim Crow.” The failure of this compromise bill is likely to rekindle cries among Democrats to change or abolish the filibuster. These cries have echoed across the Democratic caucus since taking the majority. Durbin’s association of the filibuster with Jim Crow has been often restated by his colleagues, who have demanded an end to the process. In an interview, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said that election bills deal with “constitutional rights” and “should not be subjected to a filibuster.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who introduced a separate election bill earlier this year warned in an interview with CBS that it would be “election Armageddon” if the rules about the filibuster are not changed. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) voiced support for changing or removing the filibuster, saying that “at some point you gotta get things done.” However, others in the caucus, including the bill’s prime negotiator, Manchin are opposed to this course. Manchin has in the past promised to defend the filibuster, rejecting efforts by his party to eliminate or neuter the parliamentary process. Another key moderate, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has said much the same, calling the filibuster “a tool” that is key for protecting the rights of the minority party in the deliberative upper chamber. While he has championed his party’s election bills, President Joe Biden has also rejected any effort to eliminate the filibuster, but he has shown himself open to reforming the process. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/21/2021 - 10:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 21st, 2021

49 best gifts for new dads and expectant fathers this holiday season

New fathers will appreciate a thoughtful gift this holiday. Here are 49 of the best gifts for new dads, from a diaper backpack to comfy sneakers. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Lovevery Becoming a parent is a complicated process and yet it can literally happen over night. From sleep schedules being thrown off to shifting priorities, new dads can feel out of sorts very quickly. But you can help a new dad. Thoughtful gifts that help them on a daily basis are some of the best ways to support them. Dad's new normal may be rocking his world, but these thoughtful gifts will help ease the change. From an on-the-go snack to comfortable sheets, we rounded up the best gifts for new dads this holiday. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. From a tea subscription to nonalcoholic wine, these are the gifts dads would ask for if they weren't too busy with diapers and figuring out how the stroller folds up to get into the car. Here are 49 of the best gifts for new dads: Non-alcoholic wine Jukes Cordialities Jukes 6 Wine, available at Jukes Cordialities, $48.50As tough as being a new dad can be, waking up at 2 a.m. for the bottle-feeding after a couple glasses of wine at dinner can be even harder. Thankfully, Jukes offers delicious wine without the brain fog. Available in white, red, or rose, each Jukes bottle makes delicious non-alcoholic wine when mixed with chilled water.  A quick snack Chomps Chomps Mild Variety Pack, available at Chomps, $22.50A relaxed sit-down meal is all but a distant memory for many new dads, so snacking between feedings, bottle cleanings, diaper changes, and errands is key. Chomps makes a variety of meat sticks from beef, turkey, and venison, all of which are sustainably farmed and grass fed. Each stick includes 9 grams of protein, zero sugars, and no nitrates — healthy, quick, and easy. Candles to freshen up the house Elder & Co. Elder & Co. Parks and Trails Sample Set, available at Elder & Co., $36From stinky diapers to special lotions and shampoos, new fatherhood can be an olfactory assault. Thankfully, this eight-candle sampler from Elder & Co. includes scents like Appalachian Trail, Joshua Tree, and Grand Canyon to bring some much needed calm and control over the not-so-pleasant new baby smells.   A travel trivia game Paper Source Gentleman's Hardware Road Trip Trivia, available at Paper Source, $14.95Just because kids enter the picture doesn't mean traveling stops. In fact, trips to grandma and grandpa's house will have a new dad on the road more than before, so give them a gift that they can use. This road-trip trivia pack from Gentlemen's Hardware includes 100 cards and a convenient travel tin.  A diaper backpack Amazon Bag Nation Backpack Diaper Bag, available at Amazon, $59.95Resembling a commuter bag, this 14-pocket backpack is durable and holds all the essentials, from diapers to bottles and everything in between. There's even a foldout changing pad. A tea subscription Atlas Tea Club Atlas Tea Club 3-Month Subscription, available at Atlas Club, $60Coffee can be a new parent's greatest weapon against restless nights and early mornings, but sometimes it can be too much. Gift the new dad in your life a monthly tea subscription from Atlas. The subscription includes two new single-origin teas from around the world delivered every month.  A portable speaker Amazon JBL Clip 3 Portable Speaker, available at Amazon, $49.95The JBL Clip 3 is the ultimate bluetooth speaker for new dads. It comes in a variety of colors; has an integrated carabiner to attach to a stroller, car seat, or backpack; and, most importantly, is waterproof. Paired with a smartphone, dad can sit back and relax while blasting "Baby Shark" for the hundredth time. A portable white noise machine Amazon Marpac Portable White Noise Machine, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, $26.99The compact Marpac has impressive sound, a variety of white noise options, and a small nightlight. Dad can use the included clip to connect it to a stroller, car seat, or carrier for walks and car rides. A convenient sling bag Moment Moment Fanny Sling, available at Moment and B&H Photo, from $59.99Moment is known for making smartphone-oriented products, but within the past few years, the brand has moved into mobile lifestyle, and if anyone is living that, it's a new dad. This waterproof, easy-to-clean sling can hold a wallet, keys, phone, camera, snack bar, and other necessities.  It's perfect for running errands or a day traipsing around a theme park. *This product is currently backordered A smart coffee warmer Best Buy Ember Mug², available at Target, Best Buy, Overstock, and Bloomingdale's, from $99.95Every new parent knows the taste of lukewarm coffee — it's inevitable. Dad deserves (needs!) to have delicious, warm coffee. The Ember Mug² will keep their beverage warm for more than an hour, pairs with an app to ensure the right temperature, and recharges on a coaster. . Hot sauce Amazon Bushwick Kitchen Bees Knees Spicy Honey, available at Amazon, $14.99Dad will be taking breakfast to the next level in no time at all with Bushwick Kitchen's sauces. Choose from sweet and spicy sauces like wildflower honey mixed with habanero peppers or mild, sweet options like Meyer lemon honey.  A waterproof tote bag Adventureon Gift the Veer Tote, available at Adventureon, $99This tote is a great gift for new dads — not only does it have padded handles and an interior water-resistant zip compartment, but the entire bag is made of coated waterproof fabric. That means dads can get it as dirty as they want and simply rinse it off to make it good as new. A funny book about fatherhood Barnes & Noble Man vs. Baby: The Chaos and Comedy of Real-Life Parenting, available at Amazon, $16.29Nothing will fully prepare him for the chaos and confusion of being a new dad. However, Matt Coyne's sleep-deprived take on parenting provides hilarious and honest reassurance that he's doing alright, no matter how stressful it seems. Polarized sunglasses REI Gift the Sunski Puerto polarized sunglasses, available Sunski, $48Some dads worry that their style will cease when they welcome a child into the world. A new pair of shades is a quick way to shake up the routine. These sunglasses are made of lightweight recycled material and feature polarized lenses that eliminate glare. Bonus, if the glasses break from normal use, Sunski will replace or fix them. Comfortable slide sandals Hunter Boot Gift the Hunter Original Lightweight Moulded Slides, available at Hunter Boot and Nordstrom,  $45.00Hunter's EVA slides fit the bill for easy, lightweight, and durable footwear. The perforated uppers and contoured footbed keep dad's feet cool and comfortable, and you can't beat the ease of simply sliding them on for errands or just to wear around the house. A compact flashlight Coast Gift the HX-4 LED Flashlight, available at Amazon and Coast, from $15Fumbling for diapers in the middle of the night or searching for that tiny clip from baby's teething toy that fell between the seats in the car — these are good reasons for dad to have a great flashlight. This one is small, has a clip and a magnet to attach it nearly anywhere, features a powerful LED in white and red light, and can be rotated 180 degrees to make sure it's exactly where dad needs it. A new set of sheets for parents and baby Brooklinen Gift the Brooklinen Classic Core Sheet Set, from $109Brooklittles Crib Sheet Set, available at Brooklinen, from $32Sleep, when it does happen for both dad and baby, is so much better on a set of soft sheets that make them feel like they're sleeping on a cloud. Brooklinen sheets are great for delicate skin and hot sleepers, and they come in a variety of colors and prints. A basketball jersey for baby NBA Store NBA Baby Jersey, available at NBA Store, from $39.99It's going to be a while before baby gets into it, but it's still a lot of fun for a new dad to watch the game with baby decked out in their favorite jersey. A travel mug for coffee time Amazon Gift the Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug, available at Stanley and Bed Bath & Beyond, from $20New dads rarely have both hands free, so eliminating the need to twist, pop, flip, or open their coffee mug makes life so much easier. Dad can simply add their coffee, screw on the top, and pull the trigger to open up the world of caffeine goodness. A fitness app with extras Centr Centr Fitness App Subscription, available at Centr, from $10/month or $120/yearBuilt by Thor and his legion of trainers, Centr is a one-stop-shop for workouts ranging from yoga to full gym routines. The app includes short, effective workouts that are perfect for that new dad schedule and the guided mediation will slow dad's anxiety. A shaving kit Harry's Harry's Truman Shave Set, available at Harry's, $15This essential shave set includes a razor with a comfortable handle and textured rubber grip, three German-engineered blade cartridges, foaming shave gel for a rich lather, and a travel cover to protect the blades. Stroller phone mount Amazon Skip Hop Stroll and Connect Universal Phone Holder, available at Buy Buy Baby, $14.99Made with tough plastic and rubber grips, the Stroll and Connect mounts to a stroller or shopping cart. It stays put and won't fall off on bumpy terrain or in crowded aisles. A wireless charging station Nomad Nomad Base Station, available Nomad, $99.95If the secret to success as a new dad is organization, Nomad's wireless charger fits the bill. It can power two devices simultaneously while also allowing for a USB-C and USB-A cord to be plugged in for a total of four devices at once. Mom and dad's phones, AirPods, and the portable white noise machine will all be ready to go at a moment's notice. One tool for almost every job REI Leatherman Wingman Multi-Tool, available at REI, $59.95The Leatherman Wingman is loaded with 14 tools, including a knife, screwdrivers, bottle openers, and even a 1-inch ruler, so dad can fix just about anything and pop open a cold one when they're done. A device to keep track of everything Amazon Tile Essentials 4-Pack, available at Amazon, $69.99This grab bag of Tile options lets new parents rely on technology instead of their overtaxed brains. New dads can attach Tiles to their keys, diaper bag, and wallet to ensure those items never stay lost for too long. And if dad has their keys but not their phone, they can double tap the Tile to make it ring.  Comfortable underwear Saxx Saxx Quest Boxer Briefs, available at Quest, $32The right pair of underwear makes everything go so much smoother. The lightweight material is soft and breathable, and the patented BallPark Pouch keeps everything in place. A play kit of curated toys Lovevery Play Kit Subscription, available at Lovevery, from $36/monthMake those long hours playing on the floor count with a subscription to Lovevery curated age-appropriate toy kits. Delivered every two months, each kit comes with a guide that explains how the included toys support a child's development.  Comfortable running socks Darn Tough Gift the Darn Tough Stride Micro Crew Ultra-Light Running Sock, available at Amazon and Darn Tough, from $18.95For many new dads, exercise is crucial to maintaining mental health, but they can't afford to get sore feet. These running socks are made from merino wool for moisture wicking, provide arch support to reduce fatigue, and have seamless stitching to to prevent blisters and chaffing. Another plus is Darn Tough's no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee. A comfortable pillow Coop Home Goods Coop Home Goods Original Pillow, available at Amazon, $61.99A comfy pillow might be the most important ingredient for a restful night. The Coop pillow has adjustable fill that can be added or removed to their liking, and a 100-night trial means dad isn't stuck with it if they don't like it. Instant pour-over coffee Kahawa 1893 Kahawa 1893 Coffee Lovers Gift Box, available at Kahawa 1893, $49Restless nights and uncertain mornings may have dad missing their morning pour-over coffee ritual. They can still have that rich flavor thanks to third-generation Kenyan coffee farmer Margaret Kemunto Nyamumbo. This single serve is packaged like a tea bag, ready in five minutes, and 100% compostable. Bonus: You can send a tip directly to the women who picked the coffee. A quick hang Backcountry Metolius Project Board, available at Backcountry, $64.95With a variety of holds, from jugs to crimps to pockets, the Metolius Project Board is great for releasing tension with a quick upper body workout. Dad can use it just about anywhere indoors or outside, and the fine texture is easy on the skin. An adjustable baby carrier Bradley Hasemeyer/Insider Ergobaby Omni 360 All-in-One Carrier, available at Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, and Ergobaby, from $161Whether dad is running errands or spending a day in the park, a good baby carrier makes everything so much easier. The Ergobaby Omni 360 is made from super soft cotton and easily adjusts to fit waists and shoulders of all sizes. It works in multiple positions, too — front or back, face-in or face-out.  An Instant Pot Target Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 (6-Ot.), available at Amazon, $89With the Instant Pot, cooking dinner for the whole family is a breeze. The multicooker is great for preparing soups, meats, yogurt, and even baby food. Easy cleanup means more time to spend with the little one, too. A meat or seafood box Crowd Cow/Instagram Crowd Cow Gift Box, available at Crowd Cow, from $44Give a new dad something delicious to cook. Crowd Cow's meats and seafood are sourced from independent producers that practice sustainable farming and ethical treatment of animals. Super soft lounge pants Tommy John Tommy John Second Skin Lounge Pants, available at Tommy John, $68New dads will love a pair of comfortable house pants that won't embarrass them when the in-laws show up unannounced. These soft, light micromodal pants from Tommy John are perfect, and they hold up nicely in the wash. An interactive photo journal Artifact Uprising "The Story of You" Baby Book, available at Artifact Uprising, $99A phone full of pictures and videos is great, but dad will want something to hold onto the most special moments. In this photo book, featuring a fabric cover and foil stamped title, they can write down their memories of each milestone. Comfortable shoes that slip on Vasque Vasque Satoru Moc, available at Backcountry, $99.95As any parent will tell you, getting your shoes on can be downright tough when you're holding the baby, diaper bag, and much, much more. Footwear brand Vasque has new dads covered. With a sock-like upper and memory foam footbed, dad will probably wear them all day, and the easy on and off makes them infinitely versatile. A lightweight button-up for a put-together look The Tie Bar Tie Bar Short-Sleeve Shirt, available at Tie Bar, from $27.50It's nice for dad to feel put-together sometimes. The 100% cotton button-ups from Tie Bar are perfect for a rare night out or day at the office. A cold brew maker Amazon Takeya Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker, available at Amazon, $24.99Dad will love a cup of cold brew coffee when they need a pick-me-up after sneaking in an afternoon nap. The easy-to-use Takeya Deluxe makes up to 1 quart of concentrate.  A durable water bottle Hydro Flask Hydro Flask Wide Mount Water Bottle, available at Hydro Flask, $32.95When life gets as hectic as it does for new fathers, it's easy to forget to drink water. This durable insulated metal bottle keeps water cold and within arm's reach. A delicious baby blanket UncommonGoods Tortilla Baby Blanket, available at Uncommon Goods, $48The flour tortilla print on this blanket is perfect for wrapping your baby up like a bundle of burrito joy. The blanket is made of breathable cotton/polyester blend fabric that will keep baby comfortable and cool.  A foam roller Trigger Point TriggerPoint GRID foam roller, available at Amazon, $34.95Knots and tight muscles go hand in hand with parenting. Dad will appreciate having this foam roller to roll away the aches and pains of being a new parent. A tool kit Amazon Cartman General Household 39-piece toolkit, available at Amazon, $19.99There's just something about being a dad that turns everyone into an overnight handy person. This tool kit includes all the basics they'll need for assembling or repairing all that new gear in the nursery and beyond. A soft cooler Clevermade CleverMade SnapBasket Soft-Sided Cooler Tote, available at Amazon, $33.95Dad is going to need a good cooler for bringing groceries home from the store or packing up milk and baby food for a road trip to see the grandparents. This one has a 50-can capacity, but it still folds up small enough to stash under the seat when they don't need it. A custom print of baby's footprints Pine & Poem Baby / Etsy Baby Footprint Art Print, available at Etsy, from $18It's always hard to believe how little they used to be. This is an attractive, thoughtful personalized that fits nicely anywhere in the home. A pair of chinos Bonobos Bonobos Chinos, available Bonobos, from $99Unfortunately, a new dad can't wear lounge pants all the time. But that doesn't mean they've got to sacrifice comfort. Bonobos chinos come in multiple fits and sizes, and the signature curved waistband offers an unobtrusive fit that makes them great for the office, a trip to the store, or a playdate in the park.  Single-origin coffee beans Colectivo Coffee Colectivo Coffee—Sumatra, available at Colectivo, from $15.95If dad is a coffee fanatic, they'll love a bag of single-origin beans. Grown in the volcanic soil in the rugged mountains of the Indonesian island Sumatra, this rich, complex blend has notes of molasses and pineapple. And for those mornings where there's no time to hassle with a French press, don't overlook instant coffees, which have caught up in quality to the whole bean variety. A smart speaker for baby's room Amazon Echo Dot, available at Amazon, $34.99A smart speaker is a nice addition to baby's room. It can play lullabies or classical music at bedtime, or dad can use it to listen to the game while they're playing with toys.  An REI membership REI REI Co-op Membership, available at REI, $20Getting active and outdoors is great for kids, and something a new dad can do right from the start. With an REI membership, they'll get annual dividends, exclusive offers, and more to get the gear they and their family will want.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 19th, 2021

Ken Griffin Says Chicago Violence Like "Afghanistan On A Good Day", Claims Crypto Is "Jihadist" Attack On The Dollar

Ken Griffin Says Chicago Violence Like "Afghanistan On A Good Day", Claims Crypto Is "Jihadist" Attack On The Dollar Move over Jamie Dimon. There's another American billionaire financier who appears to be quietly launching a post-business political career. Or at the very least, one could be forgiven for believing Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin's appearance Monday at the Chicago Club of Economics was one long stump speech. Griffin's hour-plus dialogue, which received extensive coverage from the financial press, comes at an interesting time. On the Internet, "conspiracy theorists" (according to Citadel) have continued to raise questions about possible collusion (or other wrongdoings) between Citadel and Robinhood (and one Robinhood exec in particular) before RH pulled the plug on January's meme stonk mania. Meanwhile, over at the SEC, Gary Gensler has said he's looking into regulating - or possibly eliminating or greatly restricting - the practice of 'Payment for Order Flow", whereby electronic retail brokerages like Robinhood sell their customers' orders to Citadel and other market makers (but primarily Citadel). Griffin spoke with Bloomberg's Erik Schatzker about a seemingly endless list of topics, offering imminently quotable lines and thoughtful takes on everything from crypto, to political corruption in Illinois and Chicago's slow decline into anarchy, President Biden's policies, the prospect of another Trump presidency, PFOF, crypto, and of course COVID. The dialogue started with a question on vaccination rates and meandered on from there. Here's a breakdown of what Griffin said by topic. COVID When it comes to containing COVID, Griffin believes that the US's battle against the virus was lost right at the beginning. "The country lost this battle in the first attack, when we weren’t willing to do what it took to shut down America, to truly contain Covid-19. And then to get back out of the seat, and we’ve all just paid a catastrophic price as a result." When it comes to vaccination rates, Griffin believes they have plateaued at an "unacceptably low level". The Fed According to Griffing "the Fed's in a really tough box." The Fed is in "no man's land", Griffin says, and as far as being its chairman, "it is a job I would not be so grateful to have". He also noted that inflationary pressures in the US are "really unsettling." What to do? "If i were Chairman Powell, i stay the course that I'm on as unnerving as that is. to see inflation running this hot is really unsettling." It was at this point that Griffin said something really interesting about the Fed and it's credibility. It's not often that you hear the people who actually run our financial system speak frankly about how it really works. But Griffin essentially said 'the quiet part out loud' when the discussion turned to the Fed's credibility, which we have argued time and again is already in tatters - especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. "And let's be clear right now we don't have price stability. Inflation is at 5% is the highest number people here have seen in their lifetimes," Griffin said. He added that the Fed's position that these pressures are "transitory" is really just "a big bet". But regardless of the course of inflation in the future, Griffin said that the more pressing issue is protecting the Fed from being tainted by the same ugly politics that afflict Capitol Hill. The whole point of a central bank is it's supposed to be independent from politics. Whether this is actually true or not, it's the appearance of neutrality that's necessary to maintain global confidence in the dollar. "We need to maintain the belief in the separation of the Fed from the halls of Washington for the sake of a strong dollar. If you're part of the financial community...you need to push back on that". Fiscal Stimulus Griffin slammed the post-COVID stimulus for being to expansive, and claimed all those benefits are still "disincentivizing lower-wage workers". China The first question Griffin was asked about China was whether he still opposes a "decoupling" between China and the US. According to Griffin, this "decoupling" is already happening. "I think in important ways we have already decoupled." But on a day where Biden's Trade Rep Katherine Tai essentially plagiarized President Trump's tough-on-China economic policies during a major speech, Griffin insisted that there will be drawbacks to what the US is doing - including limiting access to semiconductors and software, which has further motivated Beijing to develop their own. "By restricting Chinese access to semiconductors and American software we have pushed them into a national campaign to eliminate their dependence on the west...imagine a world where there are two totally independent software stacks." When it comes to the technology arms race, Griffin warned, the US is bound to lose. "They graduate about twice as many graduates as we do half of them have stem degrees. They're producing about 5x more talented engineers per annum. The belief that we will be technologically dominant...is naive." Once China surpasses American tech, "not only will they use it in the biggest market in the world which is their own market...but they'll push it to all their trading partners, the Brazils of the world..." Ultimately, "I can imagine a world where we have been divided...and I don't like thinking about that outcome. I can picture a world in 30 to 40 years where, in some sense we have divided the world up between east to west technologically,” Griffin said. TSMC Could Beijing's lust for better semis technology accelerate their takeover of Taiwan? The tiny rogue territory has somehow emerged as a global leader in chip technology and production thanks to TSMC. "They don't have the entire solution, they still buy equipment from around the world, but talk about a powerhouse...and going back to my point earlier, China views Taiwan as part of China, there's no way they will be technologically important against American in the next 20 years. They will get there eventually." The Rust Belt That's not to say there haven't been drawbacks to the US engagement with Beijing, and according to Griffin is the fact that China's advances in manufacturing and the state support allowing their companies to be more competitive helped contribute to the hollowing out of thousands of American factory towns. In retrospect, this was a necessary sacrifice to entice the Chinese to embrace first capitalism, and then democracy. But increasingly it looks like the CCP has no intention to ever loosen its monopoly on power, meaning all those sacrifices were for nothing. "To have the most populous country in the world becoming increasingly capitalistic our belief was that them becoming capitalist would inevitably lead to them becoming a democracy. when we wrote the rules of rht road for them, we did it with the objective of making that happen." "The challenge that we underestimated is how devastating this was going to be for small towns that had its only factory shut down. It wasn't how it was going to impact NYC, Chicago or LA but how it was going to impact a small town in upstate New York. That was a terrible policy miscalculation not done in bad faith...but we didn't have the trainin or relocation strategies to help people get back on their feet." Competition Griffin believes America is facing an identity crisis, and needs to get back to its "core values." And a big part of that is embracing "competition". Enough of this 'everybody gets a trophy' bs. "We need to get back to our core values if we're going to win. What does that mean? Children need to be taught the virtue of earned success. It can't be that every time a race is won, there's two gold medal winners. and earned success is so important to the psychological success of our country. When people know they've done a job well..." there's a sense of pride. The reason why 1 in 10 Americans is severely depressed is that "when life revolves around your instagram and facebook account not how well you do on the sports field, how well you do in class...you've lost your way in life." "We need to teach our children math and science and how to write and how to compete and how to enjoy success....because we need these children to lead this country in 20 years." Griffin also complained that the scientists who developed the COVID jabs weren't properly venereated. "Why haven't we brought the scientists from Pfizer and Moderna to the White House to recognize them for the accomplishment of developing a vaccine in a year. These people are the heroes of our lifetime..." "There are no people who are children are looking up to to say 'I wanna be like her'" Griffin said. Teachers Unions One of the biggest causes of the decay in the quality of public education, according to Griffin, are the teachers unions. He relayed how former Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel went to bat for the schools against the unions...and lost. That's why Chicago has one of the shortest school years, and shortest school days, in the country. "Our mayor went to bat to change that and got batted over the head by the teacher's union," he said. Biden Agenda Moving on to the subject of Biden's economic agenda, which is presently the subject of a Democratic civil war in Washington, Griffin said there was plenty in the bill he liked, but also plenty he opposed, starting with the price tag. "Let's just say thank God for Sen. Manchin," Griffin said. Debt Ceiling Griffin believes the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling lies with the Dems...whether or not that means falling back on reconciliation to bypass a GOP filibuster, or not. "We've played this game of chicken before...I hope somebody blinks before they go over the cliff. I do believe the Democrats have a responsibility....to push this forward." Payment for Order Flow Finally, the big one. Are hidden costs imposed by Citadel and other market makers via payment for order flow (PFOF) helping to line Griffin's pockets at the expense of retail traders? Of course not, he insisted. In fact, if you took away PFOF, Citadel would be just fine..."from the 100,000 feet view" at least, Griffin said. Even though the practice has been a major driver of profits at his firm, Griffin tried to frame PFOF as a nuisance cost, suggesting he would rather not have to "pay" for order flow at all. "Let us hope that we maintain the status quo. brokerage firms have a duty to secure the best price for their customers. That's the premise on which we compete that's the premise on which we win." Ultimately, losing PFoF would be "a huge loss" for traders who enjoy the lowest commissions in history right now (nothing), Griffin claimed, while adding that "let us hope that in Washington, they maintain the status quo." Ken Griffin discusses PFOF (1/2)#BanPFOF #KenGriffinLied pic.twitter.com/nprGSAzT1M — Antonio Martinez (@AntonioTheMexi) October 4, 2021 Ken Griffin discusses PFOF (2/2)#BanPFOF #KenGriffinLied pic.twitter.com/PwnVVNuex5 — Antonio Martinez (@AntonioTheMexi) October 4, 2021 Whatever the SEC decides regarding PFoF, "all i want to know are the rules of the road...If i have to drive on the left I'll drive on the left...just tell me to drive." Crypto While Griffin is certainly amused by crypto, he wishes all this energy could be channeled toward something that doesn't also inadvertently undermine the American financial system. Instead, Griffin sees crypto-mania as a "jihadist call"... Griffin Sees Crypto-Mania as ‘Jihadist Call’ Against the Dollar A mania which your Robinhood subsidiary is eagerly fanning... — zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 4, 2021 ...to attack and undermine the dollar. "I wish all this passion directed at crypto was redirected at making American stronger," adding that backing bitcoin over the dollar was a "Jihadist call". He also made a crack about how terribly energy inefficient bitcoin is, repeating a longstanding criticism. While he certainly has ethical objections to crypto, Griffin says he would absolutely let Citadel to get involved in the market if it's ever regulated. "If it were regulated, I would trade it because..it would be good to have a Tier 1 firm making prices." Chicago Griffin saved most of his anger for Gov. Pritzker and other Illinois elected officials. He started with a story of a conversation between him and Pritzker where Griffin claimed the governor refused to send in the National Guard to quell violence in the city because of the political optics. Since the last time Griffin spoke at the Economic Club in 2013, the City has gotten even worse. "Since the last time I spoke in 2013, 25,000 of my fellow Chicagoans have been shot. It is a disgrace that our governor will not insert himself into the challenge of addressing crime in our city. It won't look good to have men and women on corners on Michigan Avenue with assault weapons...well, if it would save the life of one child, I don't care. We need to try and start to take the state back inch by inch from people who put their politics first and the people second." On the subject of police, Griffin said: "We need our police officers to know that they are respected and welcomed as Americans." In fact, Griffin says Citadel has already started to dial back its presence in Chicago because of the safety issue before sharing an amusing crack about Chicago being more dangerous than Afghanistan. "We aren't as much in Chicago. It's becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city that has so much violence. I mean Chicago is like Afghanistan on a good day. They tried to car jack the security detail that sits outside my apartment. It just shows you how deep crime runs in this city. There is nowhere you can feel safe walking home at 2130 at night. And it's really hard to recruit people to Chicago. When they read the headlines, theey know the facts. 20 years ago, this was a great place to raise a family...I could say that and be genuine...I can't give that speech today." As for New York City, Griffin warned that many of the same things he has seen in Chicago are starting to take place in New York City. Griffin added that Citadel's next big expansion will be office space in Miami, and that the company's time of remaining headquarter in Chicago will be measured in "years not decades". The Sun Belt Moving on from the Chicago discussion, Griffin believes that across the US, coastal blue states with high taxes will start to lose their economic edge to the Sun Belt, which has more business-friendly regulations. "Conditions are Better across the sun belt states, less regulation less taxes a workforce that's generally of the ethos of 'I'm here to earn it'. Northern cities still have a considerable advantage...those schools anchor our great northern cities. the south doesn't have that yet writ large. But as universities in the south continue to get better, you're going to see the balance of power shift from the north to the south as the ease of doing business in the south trumps the ease of hiring top employees in the north." Trump Finally, the big one. When it comes to President Trump, Griffin admits his economic policies were "pretty damn good." However, when asked about the prospect of another campaign in 2020, he said that "it's time for America to move on. The 4 years under president trump were so divisive it was not constructive for the country." He also said he was "appalled" by Trump's willingness to play identity politics. * * * Griffin's speech before the Chicago Club  the first major public appearance by Griffin since the "GameStopped" hearings back in Feb. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/04/2021 - 17:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 4th, 2021

This athletic bag removes the stink from workouts

Around four years ago, the founders of Pndulum set out to solve one of sports’ oldest problems: How to eliminate the stink on athletic shoes, apparel and equipment that a good workout naturally produces. As Pndulum Chief Product Officer Tim Offutt .....»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJul 26th, 2018

Sen. Mitt Romney says Biden was elected "to stop the crazy" and argues that voters weren"t asking him "to transform America"

"Things are not going well," Romney said of Biden's tenure. "And the president needs to stop and reset and say what is it he's trying to accomplish?" Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Sen. Mitt Romney on Sunday said that President Joe Biden was not elected to "transform America." Romney said that people who backed Biden "were looking to get back to normal" and "stop the crazy." The senator said that Biden's latest voting-rights speech was not helpful in forging bipartisanship. Sen. Mitt Romney on Sunday dinged President Joe Biden's governing approach, arguing that the veteran Democratic lawmaker was elected to restore a sense of normalcy to government and was not put into office to "transform" the country.During an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," the Utah Republican — who was also the party's presidential nominee in 2012 — told host Chuck Todd that Biden has needed to adhere to his commitment to bridge partisan divisions in the country in the wake of the president's fiery voting-rights speech in Atlanta last week."President Biden said he was going to try to unite the country," the senator said. "His comments in Georgia did not suggest he's trying to pull us back together again."He continued: "He's got to recognize that when he was elected, people were not looking for him to transform America. They were looking to get back to normal. To stop the crazy. And it seems like we're continuing to see the kinds of policy and promotions that are not accepted by the American people."Romney's comments mirrored the sentiment of moderate Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, who said last November that voters didn't elect Biden to become the next Franklin D. Roosevelt in pushing for changes in government but to move away from the tumult of the administration of former President Donald Trump.For months, Democrats have sought to enact key voting-rights legislation — namely the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — in the face of the GOP blocking the bills in the Senate, along with opposition to a filibuster carve-out from Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.In the evenly-divided Senate, Biden's most ambitious policy items — including the roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better social-spending bill that invests in health care, early education, and climate change — have faced a tough road to passage.Romney, who worked with Biden to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law last November, said that the president should push for a "reset" regarding his presidency, arguing that the Democrat has had "a bad year."The senator pointed to concerns surrounding inflation, the rise in illegal crossings at the US-Mexico border last year, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and logistical issues with Americans accessing COVID-19 testing kits as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the country. "Things are not going well," Romney said. "And the president needs to stop and reset and say what is it he's trying to accomplish?"He continued: "And if it's to try and transform America, he is not going to unite us. Bringing us together means finding a way to work on a bipartisan basis. He had one success, the infrastructure bill, and that was done by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate working together. Build on that kind of success."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

A Florida Republican who was defeated by 59 percentage points in a congressional special election won"t concede

With all precincts reporting, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Jason Mariner by a 78.7% to 19.6% margin — a massive 59.1 percentage-point victory. Campaign signs are seen outside the Sunset Lakes Community Center in Miramar, Fla., on January 11, 2022.AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell Republican Jason Mariner has not conceded in Florida's 20th District special election House race. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a progressive Democrat, beat Mariner in a 79%-20% landslide. Mariner filed a lawsuit before the election had been called, only telling CBS Miami that "stuff" had been "discovered." A Florida Republican who last Tuesday lost a congressional special election by a landslide margin in a heavily Democratic district has declined to concede the race, according to CBS Miami.Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick — a progressive Democrat who pledged to fight for $1,000 monthly checks for Americans and backs policies including the Green New Deal and Medicare for All — easily defeated Republican Jason Mariner in a race to succeed the late Congressman Alcee Hastings, who passed away in April 2021.With all precincts reporting, Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Mariner by a 78.7% to 19.6% margin in Florida's 20th District — representing a 59.1 percentage-point victory. The congresswoman received 43,663 votes to her opponent's 10,883 votes in a clear victory.However, in a move reminiscent of former President Donald Trump, who continues to dispute his election loss to President Joe Biden, Mariner has pointed to irregularities in the South Florida district."Now they called the race — I did not win, so they say, but that does not mean that they lost either, it does not mean that we lost," the Republican told CBS after the race was called for Cherfilus-McCormick.Before the polls closed for the special election, Mariner filed a lawsuit pointing to ballot issues in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the two populous Democratic-leaning jurisdictions that anchor the district."We'll also have some stuff coming out that we've recently discovered," Mariner told the television station, without disclosing any developments that could affect the outcome.Cherfilus-McCormick — who eked by former Democratic primary contender Dale Holness by five votes in a multicandidate Democratic primary in November — brushed off Mariner's move."Well, this wouldn't be my first time running against an opponent who is refusing to concede, so it's not our first time, and at the end of the day nothing can stop the motion," she told CBS.Holness, a former Broward County Commissioner, filed a lawsuit in November to invalidate the Democratic primary results, alleging that Cherfilus-McCormick's advocacy for a universal basic income plan was tantamount to bribing voters.Election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties told CBS that the election results would be certified in 14 days — with challenges permitted for 10 days after that point.While candidates who are unsuccessful in their races aren't legally bound to formally concede, Trump's continued refusal to acknowledge his loss to Biden despite a clear 306-232 Electoral College victory for the president has morphed into a major point of contention for partisans, from the grassroots level to the halls of Congress.In the wake of Trump's 2020 presidential loss, Republicans across the country have raced to implement voting restrictions, fueled by the former president's debunked claims of voter fraud.Congressional Democrats have sought to nullify many of the provisions of Republican-led bills with the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — but have been stymied by resistance to filibuster reform from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, along with near-unanimous GOP opposition to the bills.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

"We Are Going To Take Back America": Trump Holds First Rally Of 2022 In Arizona

"We Are Going To Take Back America": Trump Holds First Rally Of 2022 In Arizona Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times, Former President Donald Trump painted a positive future for Republicans late Saturday at his first rally of 2022, held in Arizona. “A great red wave is going to begin here in Arizona and is going to sweep across this country and it’s going to wash hundreds and thousands of Democrat socialists out of office with an unstoppable surge of Republican patriots, and they’re going to be doing it, you’re going to be heading to the polls,” Trump said at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds, in Florence, a Republican stronghold about 70 miles southeast of Phoenix. “This is the year we are going to take back the House, we are going to take back the Senate, and we are going to take back America. This is so important,” he told the crowd that responded in loud cheers. “This is maybe the most important election we’ve ever had. I do believe that 2024 will be even more important … In 2024, we are going to take back the White House!” he added. Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) Thousands of supporters gathered at Trump’s rally, his second in Arizona since he left office. The former president described the crowd as a “sea of people” that stretched “as far as the eyes can see,” and urged media members present to turn their cameras around. Trump used the crowd size to question the results of the 2020 election. “I ran twice, and we won twice, and we did better the second time … This crowd is a massive symbol of what took place because the people are hungry for the truth, they want their country back,” the former president asserted. Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) “A person that comes here and has crowds that go further than any eye can see … and has cars that stretch out for 25 miles—that’s not somebody that lost an election,” he later said. “And now because of it, our country is being destroyed.” Trump deplored the current state of the nation but expressed hope the situation will change, outlining agendas that include to eliminate COVID-19 mandates, investigate the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and combat illegal immigration. During his speech, Trump endorsed Kari Lake for Arizona governor while calling incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, a “terrible representative” of the state. Lake, a former journalist, promised to eliminate mandates if she becomes governor. She also promised she would help to ensure election integrity and address illegal immigration, including to finish building the border wall. Former President Donald Trump and Kari Lake, whom Trump is supporting in the Arizona’s gubernatorial race, speak during a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) COVID-19 Mandates The former president lobbied heavy criticism against the Biden administration’s mandates, which he said are “absolutely decimating our economy.” Trump urged Americans to “tell Joe Biden the Americans’ health choices are none of his business, we can make our own choices.” “With these decisions they’re making, they’re wrecking and devastating people’s lives; firing Americans from their jobs, forcing innocent children to grow up in masks, closing their schools—destroying education, crushing their development, demolishing their futures—[and] locking people in their homes,” Trump said. “They’re truly hurting the American people … they’ve taken away their dignity, they’ve taken away their liberties. And I say enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore.” “This is the moment the Americans must take their lives and their future back,” he added. “We have to do it. We have to be strong. It’s time for the radical Democrats to leave our families alone, leave our elderly alone, leave our children alone with their strong immune system.” Supporters gather at a rally by former President Donald Trump at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) “Big Pharma is making a fortune. Democrats are putting corporate profits over the rights of the American people. These corrupt, power-hungry lunatics need to hear us loud and clear—we are done having our lives controlled by politicians and Washington bureaucrats. We’re done with the mandates, including the mandates for frontline health care workers.” Trump said he had “fiercely resisted mandates, and always will.” Jan. 6 Probe The former president said that if Republicans regain control of congress, they will start an investigation into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, the day when the U.S. Capitol was breached. “We will immediately begin our own investigations into what happened—what really happened, because this is being totally whitewashed,” Trump said, while denouncing the current Democrat-led House committee investigation of Jan. 6. “January 6 has become the Democrat Party’s excuse to justify an unprecedented assault on Americans’ civil rights and liberties,” Trump said. A supporter wears a large button reading “Fighting for President Trump, January 6 We’re Coming” on his hat as he attends the first rally of the year by former President Donald Trump at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds in Florence, Arizona, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images) He criticized the treatment of people who have been detained in the Jan. 6 investigation. “Appalling persecution of political prisoners. What’s happening to those people in those jails … the blatant abuse of power to harass their political opponents is disgraceful, it’s never happened to this extent,” Trump said. “When it comes to January 6 defendants, most of whom were charged with non-violent offenses, partisan Democrats have celebrated their indefinite detention without trial,” he said. “These people are living in hell. Let them fight, let them see their lawyers, let them go out … These people are being persecuted.” Trump also denounced the shooting of Ashli Babbitt and the man who shot her. “Let’s see how he could do without the protections that he got,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace the way he shot Ashli.” “The American people deserve answers,” he said. “The Jan. 6 rally was a protest against a crooked election carried out by unhinged Democrats, Big Tech, working with the fake news media, all working together to defeat Republicans, and your favorite president—me.” Illegal Immigration Trump said that one of Republicans’ top priorities if they regain control of Congress will be to “stop the illegal flood of aliens across our southern border,” which includes human trafficking. Trump said Republicans plan to increase the number of ICE and Border Patrol officers to detain and deport illegal aliens. “We should also pass a law that says that sanctuary city officials who knowingly release criminals will be charged as accessories in any future crimes.” The border situation changed from “best” to “worst” in the span of one year, he said. “Over 2 million illegal aliens have trespassed across our borders—but that’s also a fake number given by the press and others,” Trump said, adding that he believes the number could be “10 times that amount.” “I think we’re talking about tens of millions of people are pouring into this country,” he suggested. “We see certain people and we sort of lock it down, well that’s the number, but it’s not. I think that it’s tens of millions of people, and these are not necessarily people we want in our country.” Trump noted a “record number” of undocumented migrant children arriving across the border. He accused Democrats of pushing “very cruel policies are pushing vulnerable youths into the arms of child smugglers, human traffickers, and very vicious criminal cartels.” “What the criminal cartels are doing to women and children—unbelievable. The trafficking is mostly in women, [and] what they’re doing to women is horrible. Yet despite all of this … the radical left are still hellbent on passing mass amnesty for illegal aliens,” Trump said. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 12:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Nordstrom Rack was once Nordstrom"s greatest asset, now analysts say it"s dragging the brand down. We visited three Rack stores to find out more.

Nordstrom Rack has become a drag on Nordstrom's earnings, reporting an 8.1% drop in sales over 2019 in the most recent quarter. A Nordstrom Rack branch.Insider/Brittany Chang Once considered the company's greatest asset, sales growth has slowed at Rack in recent years. Analysts say Rack has an inventory problem and suffers by being connected to a full-price brand. We visited three Racks to find out more. Just two years ago, Nordstrom's discount chain, Nordstrom Rack, was considered to be the company's biggest asset, outperforming and outgrowing its full-price business in sales and store locations.A Nordstrom Rack store in Madison, Wisconsin.Insider/Dominick ReuterBut increasingly it has become a lag on the company's earnings, reporting an 8.1% drop in sales over 2019 in the most recent quarter, while its rivals TJ Maxx and Ross Stores continue to thrive.Rack sells discount goods.Insider/Dominick ReuterAnalysts say the store has become chaotic and overrun with inventory. Nordstrom didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.Chaotic shelves in the toy department.Insider/Dominick ReuterWe visited three Nordstrom Rack stores in two parts of the US to find out more about the shopping experience.Handbags galore.Insider/Dominick ReuterOur first impressions of one of its stores in Madison, Wisconsin were good. Clothing racks were neatly organized and employees were actively keeping displays in check.The store was neat and tidy.Insider/Dominick ReuterThere seemed to be a good assortment of recognizable brands and the selection wasn't overwhelming.Kids shoes.Insider/Dominick ReuterStill, some of the clothing seemed to be well out of season. Handy for those hitting hotter climates but less so for locals taking on the cruel midwestern winter.Clothing racks were brimming with summer clothes.Insider/Dominick ReuterNext, we headed to a Nordstrom Rack in Manhattan's Midtown district.Nordstrom Rack in Midtown.Insider/Brittany ChangThe store is close to the busy Herald Square shopping area, key tourist attractions such as the Empire State Building, and a ton of offices, meaning that there are lots of different customers to appeal to.Handbags were neatly arranged.Insider/Brittany ChangOur initial impressions were also positive. Commonly messy parts of the store were kept in good order.Shoes racks looked tidy.Insider/Brittany ChangAnd there seemed to be an appropriate amount of inventory on sale, without racks being overstuffed.The denim section.Insider/Brittany ChangSome of the signage in the store didn't match the clothing on offer, however, possibly indicating that the store is using different items to cover up inventory gaps.Nordstrom executives have been upfront about the challenge of securing inventory right now.Insider/Brittany ChangA ton of winter clothing was on offer.Fleeces and jackets.Insider/Brittany ChangAnd we spotted some well-known designer brands...Rack promises to offer discount prices on premium labels.Insider/Brittany Chang...as well as more generic pieces...A less exciting assortment.Insider/Brittany Chang...and lesser-known labels.We didn't recognize all the brands on offer.Insider/Brittany ChangIt didn't necessarily feel like you were getting the most exciting assortment of designer brands.Women's apparel.Insider/Brittany ChangNext, we headed to Nordstrom Rack's Union Square location. This definitely felt more chaotic.Rammed racks.Insider/Brittany ChangA mismatch of clearance items was jammed onto racks.These items looked to be leftover from last season.Insider/Brittany ChangAnd the displays were more disheveled than in other stores.Designer handbags piled up.Insider/Brittany ChangStill, it was fairly organized for an off-price store where customers are likely to be riffling through the racks to find the best deals.Off-price stores are often messy.Insider/Brittany ChangWe spotted some well-known brands...Nike shoes.Insider/Brittany Chang...along with designer labels...Guess winter jackets.Insider/Brittany Chang...and trendy millennial brands.Ganni is also stocked at Nordstrom.Insider/Brittany ChangGlobalData Retail analyst Neil Saunders has blamed the store's current woes on the lack of discipline in its buying team. "It's almost as if Nordstrom just acquires lots of stuff, which it then shoves into stores," he told Insider.A ton of coats.Insider/Brittany ChangSource: Twitter and Insider.BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel told Insider that Nordstrom Rack is also at a disadvantage to its competitors, TJ Maxx and Ross, for example, because the company operates full-price stores too.Madewell basics made an appearance.Insider/Brittany ChangThis means that its Rack locations can be used to sell leftover inventory from full-price stores rather than inventory that's been bought at a discount, which is what TJ Maxx would do. That leads to weaker margins for Nordstrom.Women's tops.Insider/Brittany ChangNordstrom's management team has addressed Rack's weakness in recent earnings calls and partly blamed this on difficulty securing inventory because of current supply chain issues.Insider/Brittany ChangBut Siegel said it's also harder for Rack to attract brands because it has an online store. "Brands prefer the invisible sale done at TJ Maxx," he said. "If you are a brand looking to move product through off-price, seeing it online is a different proposition to believing you can drop boxes off at a TJ Maxx without anyone knowing."Nike products for sale at nordstromrack.com.Nordstrom RackRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Trump said Republicans will never be elected again if Democrats pass their voting rights bill

The "Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act" seeks to expand voting access and introduce reforms related to redistricting and campaign finance. Former President Donald Trump prepares to speak at a rally at the Canyon Moon Ranch festival grounds on January 15, 2022 in Florence, Arizona.Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images Democrats are pushing for a voting rights bill to standardize election law and expand voter access. During an Arizona rally, Donald Trump said the bill will "erase American votes with illegal votes." The bill passed the House but is unlikely to pass in the Senate without changes to filibuster rules. During a rally on Saturday in Florence, Arizona, former President Donald Trump said no Republican will ever get elected if Senate Democrats pass their voting rights bill, which seeks to standardize voting election laws across the country and expand voting access."Their scheme has always been to erase American votes with illegal votes and now they are doing so openly," Trump said. "Their legislation is not a voting rights bill. It's a voting fraud bill."The former president was referring to the "Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act," a combination of two separate voting rights bills that were rolled into one during their passage in the House of Representatives on Thursday.Under the bill, several requirements related to election administration, redistricting, and campaign finance would be instated, including:Declaring Election Day as a federal holidayRestoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated people convicted of feloniesProhibiting partisan gerrymandering by requiring states to use criteria when drawing new congressional districtsCreating more protections and allocating resources to serve voters with disabilities and overseas/military votersAccepting a wide range of forms of non-photographic identification in places where ID is required to voteThe bill is intended to improve voter access. Democrats and Republicans often believe high voter turnouts helps Democrats, but that assumption is not necessarily true, Insider's Grace Panetta reported.While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to hold a vote on the bill, the legislation will require 60 votes to pass, and will likely be blocked by Republicans unless changes are made to the chamber's filibuster rules, a move that is currently opposed by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 16th, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr."s family calls on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to "ensure that the Jim Crow filibuster does not stand in the way" of voting rights

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Sinema reaffirmed her support for the filibuster, posing a roadblock to Democrats' voting rights legislation. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., arrives for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee markup in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images Relatives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched Saturday in Arizona.  They marched in support of expanding voting rights, a priority of Democrats.  Martin Luther King III called on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema "to urgently pass federal voting rights legislation." Family members of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.'s organized in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday to call on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to support efforts to expand voting rights.Martin Luther King III, the late civil rights leader's eldest son, was joined Saturday by his wife, Arndrea Waters King, and by his daughter, Yolanda Renee King. Several prominent lawmakers were also in attendance, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and Rep. Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat who serves as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, according to a press release from Deliver for Voting Rights."Arizona, in one sense, is near ground zero, I say near because unfortunately, there are 19 states that have passed regressive laws, including our own state of Georgia," King III told MSNBC's Vaughn Hillyard on Saturday ahead of the rally.He added: "And we believe that as it relates to getting this, these bills passed, that Senator Sinema has been one of the challenges. And so it made sense to come to Arizona. Some regressive laws, we feel, have been put in place that make it harder for people to vote."Ahead of the march Saturday, King III in a press release said the Saturday event was organized "to call on Senator Sinema to urgently pass federal voting rights legislation and ensure that the Jim Crow filibuster does not stand in the way," The Hill reported.After speeches, the King family led a march through the city of Phoenix, CNN journalist Sara Boxer reported on Twitter.—Sarah Boxer (@Sarah_Boxer) January 15, 2022 As Insider previously reported, Sinema, a Democrat representing Arizona, on Thursday took to the Senate floor reaffirmed her support for her support of the 60-vote threshold and her opposition to making changes to the Senate rules on a party-line basis.Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have called for the elimination of the filibuster to allow Democrats, who hold a narrow majority in the Senate, to pass key legislative priorities — like the expansion of voting rights — without interference from members of the GOP.House Democrats this week passed a pair of bills to advance voting rights. One of the bills is a sweeping voting-rights and democracy-reform bill while the other aims to refortify parts of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down or weakened by federal courts, Insider previously reported."These bills help treat the symptoms of the disease, but they do not fully address the disease itself," Sinema said on Thursday. "And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country. The debate over the Senate's 60-vote threshold shines a light on our broader challenges." King III earlier this week said history would remember Sinema "unkindly," Insider previously reported. "While Sen. Sinema remains stubborn in her 'optimism,' Black and Brown Americans are losing their right to vote," said Martin Luther King III in a statement. "She's siding with the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace instead of the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make real our democracy."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 15th, 2022